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Global reorganisation

Novartis sheds 73 jobs in research centre rejig

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has announced it will axe 73 positions as it mothballs a Zurich-based research centre. The move is part of a global reorganization of research facilities also affecting China, Singapore and the United States.

The ESBATech facility in Schlieren will close its doors as Novartis consolidates its research into new drugs at its Basel headquarters and in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the US, “where there is already critical mass of biologics expertise”, the company said in a statement.

The former spin-off company from Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology, ESBATech, was bought by eye care specialist Alcon in 2009 – which in turn was acquired by Novartis a year later.

Two new bio-therapeutic reseach centres will be created in Basel and Cambridge, US, opening up 20 to 25 new positions in Basel, Novartis said.

The reshuffle will also result in the closure of the company’s Shanghai biologics group in China and the relocation of the its tropical disease research centre from Singapore to California.

“Dynamic innovation is not created in Switzerland through job cuts,” stated the Syna trade union on Wednesday, adding that 25 new jobs in Basel will not compensate for the larger losses in Schlieren. “In view of the good financial position at Novartis [$1.86 billion (CHF1.82 billion) second quarter profits], Syna fails to understand this move.”

The Swiss Employees’ Association said it was “surprising” that job cuts would be announced at “one of the growth drivers of the Swiss economy". The body said it was critical that new positions can be found for researchers in Switzerland.

"These employees are well trained and have lots of experience and know-how," said Daniel Christen, Employees’ Association representative for the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries, said in a statement.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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