Novartis cuts jobs in California as eastward shift continues

When Novartis ($NVS) got into vaccines by acquiring Chiron in 2006, it was quick to shift the heart of the business from California to Massachusetts. Chiron's headquarters in Emeryville, CA, became a diagnostics-focused site that did some vaccine work. Now, fresh layoffs have cut its vaccine headcount further still.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News broke the story of the 54 layoffs late last week. Employees in legal, information technology, human resources, finance, procurement, and vaccine research are affected. Some of the 54 workers could find new positions at Novartis' vaccine headquarters in Cambridge, MA, but their time at Emeryville has come to an end. Viewed in combination with Novartis' opening of a vaccine R&D laboratory in North Carolina, the cuts continue its efforts to move the division to the East Coast.

Novartis began the shift when it opened its vaccine headquarters in Cambridge one year after buying Chiron, and it has continued the transition through subsequent cuts and expansions. "The rationale for the changes is to align global functions and redeploy resources to meet the needs of the business. Novartis plans to strengthen the focus of the Emeryville site on its diagnostics business and will continue its operations there related to pharmaceutical and medical research," a company spokesperson told GEN.

With Novartis openly telling analysts of its interest in selling the vaccine and diagnostic business, it is questionable how long any workers at the unit will be employed by the Swiss company. The bet on Chiron has failed to turn Novartis into a leader in the vaccine sector, and the long-running reports of a possible sale have gathered pace. FierceBiotech reports Novartis could make a decision "fairly soon."

- here's GEN's article
- check out FiercePharma's take
- read FierceBiotech's divestiture piece