Pfizer puts 74 Swiss jobs on chopping block as it folds Seagen into its cancer operations

After telegraphing more than a hundred potential layoffs in March in connection with plans to stop construction of a massive Seagen facility, Pfizer is plowing ahead with efforts to streamline its newly combined cancer business.

Pfizer, which completed its $43 billion buyout of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) specialist Seagen in December, has made the “difficult decision” to propose another round of staff reductions and role changes at the newly acquired company, a Pfizer spokesperson told Fierce Pharma Thursday.

This time, the proposal will hit Seagen’s European headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, where 74 positions could be up for the chop. More jobs could fall victim to the plan if Pfizer isn’t able to transfer an additional 21 employees into new roles, the spokesperson explained.

After accepting Seagen into the fold this past winter, Pfizer conducted an evaluation that revealed “duplication of certain roles and functions” from the two companies, Pfizer’s spokesperson said. He added that cutting jobs is “always the very last resort” at Pfizer.

“We want to reinforce that this decision is not a reflection on the performance of our colleagues but is driven by our responsibility to meet the needs of the business and put in place an organizational structure which we believe will best serve patients with cancer and the wider oncology community,” he explained.

Pfizer is actively working with affected team members to communicate the layoff plan, the spokesperson added.

Some Seagen staffers in the U.S. recently found themselves in a similar bind when Pfizer in March confirmed plans to cancel the buildout of a 270,000-square-foot Seagen facility in Everett, Washington. Seagen had designed the plant to reduce its reliance on contract manufacturers for supplies of its clinical and commercial cancer products. As part of the project cancellation, Pfizer told Fierce Pharma at the time that Seagen’s 120 employees who were working on the site’s initial setup “will be impacted.”

Pfizer stressed, however, that it would attempt to place the impacted workers in open roles at Seagen’s headquarters in Bothell, Washington. The Big Pharma firm explained that it now plans to manufacture Seagen’s commercial drugs from its facility in Sanford, North Carolina while clinical production for Seagen is slated to occur at other sites across Pfizer’s network.

Pfizer’s acquisition of Seagen late last year marked the biggest M&A transaction in the biopharma industry since AbbVie snapped up Allergan for $63 billion in 2019. At the time of the deal’s close, Pfizer said it expected to reap an additional $3.1 billion of revenue from Seagen products in 2024. By 2030, Pfizer expects that sum to grow to $10 billion.

As part of the buyout, Pfizer also revealed a reorganization by setting up a separate oncology division led by its newly-minted chief oncology officer Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D.

Meanwhile, Pfizer gave a more detailed glimpse of its future cancer plans at an investor event in February, sketching out aims to have at least eight blockbuster oncology therapies by 2030. The blueprint will see Pfizer focus on four main cancer types: breast cancer, genitourinary cancer, blood cancer and thoracic cancers. The company already boasts commercial products in that quartet of indications.