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Hundreds of jobs threatened after big pharma deals close

Published on 07/04/15 at 02:32pm
GSK and Salix are axing jobs in the US (Flickr/Ron Cogswell)

Fresh from deals worth a combined $34 billion, GSK and Salix Pharmaceuticals have announced company restructures that have placed more than a thousand jobs at risk.

After its asset-swapping deal with Novartis to acquire the Swiss company’s vaccines business for $7.1 billion, GSK has announced it is creating a new vaccines unit – meaning hundreds of staff at existing facilities will either have to relocate or face redundancy.

And Salix, which was bought by Canadian firm Valeant for $11.1 billion in a deal that was signed off earlier this month, is axing 258 jobs, it has announced.

Some 300 staff at GSK sites in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Philadelphia will be affected by the launch of a global centre in Rockville, Maryland, that will “consolidate vaccines R&D activities currently conducted at other GSK sites into one centralised location”, a company statement says.

GSK anticipates the site, which it acquired in 2012, could be operational by September 2015. Both the Cambridge and the Philadelphia sites both have around 150 staff, who face lay-offs in the new company structure.

A GSK spokesperson told Fierce Pharma: "In the coming weeks we'll have discussions with employees about the possibility of relocating to Rockville. In addition we're still in the process of working through organisational design and business needs; this will help us understand the impact this consolidation will have on employees."

So far 1,000 jobs are expected to be lost at GSK following the Novartis deal, as the company aims to reorganise in order to refocus its R&D efforts in vaccines and boost new drug approvals.

Similarly, specialist gastro drug firm Salix will cut 258 roles from its base in Raleigh, North Carolina, according to local paper reports which state the company has lodged papers with the North Caroline Department of Commerce.

In a statement, Valeant said it plans to maintain a ‘limited presence’ in the area, with Salix general counsel Bill Bertrand staying on as senior vice president and general manager. "We are committed to treating impacted employees fairly, offering minimum severance of one year as well as prorated bonuses for 2015, if applicable," the statement says.

Lilian Anekwe

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