Thermo Fisher lays off 200-plus at clinical-stage cell and gene therapy factory in Florida

As layoffs continue to roil the biotech industry, bigger drugmakers and manufacturers such as Bristol Myers Squibb and Emergent BioSolutions haven’t been immune. Now, Thermo Fisher Scientific is among the latest to plot hundreds of job cuts.

Thermo Fisher is laying off 205 staffers across two separate sites in Alachua, Florida, according to a recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification alert from the state. The layoff round is set to go into effect from Oct. 9 through end of next March.

"We believe that leveraging our global network to provide multiple capabilities, including process development, analytical development, and clinical and commercial cGMP manufacturing, in one location will help our customers deliver gene therapies to market faster," a Thermo Fisher spokesperson explained over email.

"Therefore, as part of our viral vector services (VVS) strategy, we’re relocating the development, manufacturing and production activities that we currently perform in Alachua, Florida, to our new Plainville, Massachusetts site," the spokesperson continued. "Our science and technology innovation work will remain in Alachua and we will continue to offer viral vector services at our sites in Cambridge, Lexington & Plainville, MA as well as Seneffe & Gosselies, Belgium. " 

Decisions "that impact colleagues and their families are never taken lightly," Thermo Fisher's spokesperson said. The company said it will provide job transition assistance to employees impacted by the move.

Thermo Fisher no longer lists its Alachua site on its website, but an archived webpage says the site handles process and analytical development for early clinical trials, plus commercial-scale contract manufacturing capabilities for advanced therapies.

The company is hardly the only life sciences major to put jobs on the chopping block this summer.

Bristol Myers Squibb, for instance, recently disclosed 108 layoffs in New Jersey, which followed a previous cut to 48 jobs in the state in April.

Separately, Emergent BioSolutions is letting go of about 400 employees across all areas of its business. The manufacturer this month said it was pivoting away from contract manufacturing to focus on its core products like medical countermeasures and Narcan.

As for Thermo Fisher, the cuts in Florida follow a prior round of layoffs in New Jersey, where the company cut 113 jobs earlier this year.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Thermo Fisher.