Novartis axing 1,400 US sales jobs due to product changes

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Effective January 1, Novartis will reduce its US field force by 1,400 positions, the firm said, as it braces for patent expiries and shifts resources for product launches.

The layoffs, expected to cost about $85 million according to a company statement, will come in the General Medicines field force. The restructuring does not affect oncology or the Sandoz generics unit, spokesperson Julie Masow told MM&M.

Novartis said its business is changing due to pending patent expirations and pipeline products, new launches expected within primary care and growth within specialty care. The Swiss firm is losing Femara (cancer) in 2011, Diovan (hypertension) in 2012 and Gleevec (cancer) in 2015 to generics.

Recent launches have included Gilenya, the first oral disease-modifying drug for multiple sclerosis, which won approval in September and launched last month. Also this year, Sandoz released a difficult-to-copy version of antithrombotic Lovenox. Pipeline products are in various stages of development.

“[Novartis] has a robust pipeline and the future growth potential for our organization remains strong,” said Andy Wyss, head of Novartis Pharma North America and president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. The changes “will enable us to focus our resources on key launch products and capture opportunities in both primary care and specialty medicines.”

Fellow Swiss pharma Roche recently detailed plans to cut 4,800 jobs, with another 1,500 positions being either transferred or outsourced to third parties.

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