Novartis lays off 500 pharma staff

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Novartis is laying off up to 500 people in its Swiss pharmaceutical division and is undergoing an overall reorg that the company says will keep domestic employment at around 15,000, but which will emphasize support of 2014 launches of generic and branded drugs, reports Reuters. The company says its generics Sandoz unit will be hiring for its oncology division and for OTC manufacturing and supply chain management.

The upheaval is another in a line of recent changes for Novartis, including the January departure of its oncology head for Incyte, closing a Canadian plant in December, and a previous round of layoffs in November.

Earlier this month, there were rumors that Novartis and Merck were pondering a swap which would allow Merck to offload its OTC business, and Novartis its animal health division. Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote at the time that even though it was unclear how profitable each of these divisions were, branded pharmaceuticals remain the “core focus and profit driver” of each company.

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