Novartis set to eliminate many leadership positions as part of 1,400 layoffs in Switzerland

Before revealing its plan in June to cut 8,000 jobs, Novartis provided a hint of things to come two months earlier when it eliminated the positions of three of its C-suite executives.   

Now comes news that more leaders could face the chopping block.

Of the 1,400 jobs the pharma giant plans to cut in its home country of Switzerland, up to half will be leadership positions, the company said during a media event Monday in Zurich.

The company has completed its consultation process with executives, Novartis Switzerland head Matthias Leuenberger told local publication A Novartis spokesperson added that notices to affected managers will begin to go out at the end of this month.

The cuts will not take effect until the summer of 2023 because of how contracts are drawn up by the company, Leuenberger added. The exec also said that—unlike a 2018 belt tightening by Novartis—fewer employees will have the option of taking early retirement.

"We have shared the anticipated impact on positions at our Swiss headquarters organization," Novartis said in an e-mailed statement. "We will not be providing a breakdown of the potential impact in other countries."

The company added that "the consultation process with the employee representatives for non-management staff in Switzerland is still ongoing."

Two months ago, Novartis made official what had long been rumored—that the company was reducing its staff from 108,000 to 100,000, with the goal to save $1 billion.

Novartis was already in the process of merging its oncology and pharmaceuticals departments before making the cost-cutting announcement. That move eliminated the company’s oncology chief Susanne Schaffert, Ph.D. and relieved a duplication in business structures in countries where Novertis operates.

The changes will make Novartis “leaner and simpler,” as the company “intends to eliminate roles across the organization,” a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma in June.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Story was updated with comments from Novartis.