No­var­tis is send­ing 500 jobs to the scrap heap while adding 350 ‘high-tech’ po­si­tions for growth

No­var­tis is tak­ing out the ax again in its on­go­ing glob­al re­or­ga­ni­za­tion, cut­ting in­to its R&D group while mak­ing room for hun­dreds of new hires. Fol­low­ing an over­haul that was fo­cused on the US and Asia last year, it’s the Basel cam­pus that’s get­ting a makeover now.

Up to 500 jobs in No­var­tis’ drug de­vel­op­ment, “tra­di­tion­al” man­u­fac­tur­ing and co­or­di­na­tion group are be­ing scrapped, with the staffers ei­ther be­ing laid off, re­tir­ing ear­ly or mov­ing to oth­er lo­ca­tions. Mov­ing in­to the com­pa­ny will be 350 new em­ploy­ees for “high-tech” po­si­tions in Switzer­land, al­so for drug de­vel­op­ment as well as “in­no­v­a­tive” bi­o­log­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing.

You can file this lat­est round of cuts and growth to a de­ci­sion the com­pa­ny made last year to im­prove op­er­a­tions and in­crease ef­fi­cien­cy, a reg­u­lar theme at the Swiss multi­na­tion­al. This time around R&D has come un­der in­tense fo­cus.

Last sum­mer the urge to stream­line op­er­a­tions led No­var­tis to scrap a 400-per­son cell and gene ther­a­py unit, in­te­grat­ing it back in­to its over­all de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions and cut­ting 120 po­si­tions. Then in the fall the com­pa­ny made sev­er­al broad moves, adding new re­search op­er­a­tions based in Cam­bridge, MA as well as Basel while shut­ter­ing two units in Chi­na and Switzer­land and re­lo­cat­ing an­oth­er from Sin­ga­pore to the Bay Area.

Sev­er­al years ago a num­ber of the largest R&D groups at com­pa­nies like Mer­ck, Pfiz­er and As­traZeneca all trig­gered ma­jor over­hauls. Dur­ing much of that time, No­var­tis con­tent­ed it­self with oc­ca­sion­al moves like chop­ping a re­search group in the UK as it con­cen­trat­ed more in the ma­jor hubs. These new moves fall close­ly in line with sim­i­lar ac­tions at Mer­ck and As­traZeneca, which have fol­lowed up with new plans over the past year to con­cen­trate even more in the big hubs.

No­var­tis sent a state­ment on the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion to End­points News, say­ing:

No­var­tis has start­ed the di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion with its em­ploy­ee rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Switzer­land. It will of­fer full sup­port to all im­pact­ed as­so­ciates rang­ing from pro­vid­ing ser­vices through a job cen­ter to max­i­miz­ing in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal re-em­ploy­ment, of­fer­ing so­cial plan con­di­tions, as well as ear­ly and vol­un­tary re­tire­ment plans.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Usama Malik

Ex-Im­munomedics CFO charged with in­sid­er trad­ing, faces up to 20 years in prison af­ter al­leged­ly tip­ping off girl­friend and rel­a­tives of a PhI­II suc­cess

The former CFO of Immunomedics, who helped steer the company to its $21 billion buyout by Gilead last year, has been charged with insider trading, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Usama Malik tipped off his then-girlfriend and four others that a Phase III study for Trodelvy would be stopped early four days before Immunomedics publicly announced the result in April 2020, DoJ alleged in its complaint. The individuals then purchased Immunomedics shares, selling them after the news broke and Immunomedics’ stock price doubled.

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Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Pfiz­er, Am­gen and Janssen seek fur­ther clar­i­ty on FDA's new ben­e­fit-risk guid­ance

Three top biopharma companies are seeking more details from the FDA on how the agency conducts its benefit-risk assessments for new drugs and biologics.

While Pfizer, Amgen and Janssen praised the agency for further spelling out its thinking on the subject in a new draft guidance, including a discussion of patient experience data as part of the assessment, the companies said the FDA could’ve included more specifics in the 20-page draft document.

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Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Nurses star in J&J's campaign centered on the importance of nurses who are increasingly stressed, burnt out and quitting the profession (via Johnson & Johnson)

Thank­ful for nurs­es: J&J's new cam­paign aims to re­set pan­dem­ic clock back to grat­i­tude

In the early days of the pandemic, people cheered for nurses – delivering food, writing thank you notes and ringing bells nightly to show their appreciation. But something shifted this summer, and now Johnson & Johnson wants to remind people of the gratitude that nurses still deserve.

Call it politics or pandemic weariness or the result of almost two years of a deadly pandemic, but nurses today face threats and mistreatment from patients and their angry family members. And nurses are leaving the profession in record numbers.

Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.

Drug­mak­ers cut prices on av­er­age by more than 60% to get on Chi­na's 2022 NDRL list — re­port

China’s National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) is a crystal clear example of the country’s bargaining power in the biotech and pharma market, as more firms have reportedly agreed to cut their prices for 67 new medicines to be included in its national medical insurance coverage starting in January.

Being on the list is lucrative. Essentially, if a biotech or pharma company gets on this list, they’re covered by the biggest insurance network in the country. Given China’s vast population, the Chinese government has significant leverage to decide which medicines can make a profit. While domestic drugmakers are quite willing to play that game, cutting prices significantly in exchange for getting on the list, international companies don’t do it as often.