The ‘restructuring plan’ will be implemented over the next two years, with the total workforce at the West Sussex site gradually reduced from 950 to 550.
In a statement from the company, general manager at Novartis, Sue Webb, said: “With significant changes in healthcare systems aimed to contain or cut cost, this critical assessment and the subsequent potential changes to the Novartis UK organisation are key to maintain significant investment in innovative drugs and our research efforts in the UK.”
Though prospects remain undoubtedly gloomy for Novartis employees in Horsham, the company insists all 300 jobs in its Respiratory Clinical Development franchise and its Respiratory Research team are set to be retained.
Novartis says scientists working on other projects will be offered transfers to alternate sites in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, US.
Slew of cuts
News of another slew of job cuts comes as a further blow to the British R&D industry after US drug giant Pfizer announced the closure of its Sandwich plant earlier this year, with over 2,000 redundancies.
Major corporations with UK facilities have long been concerned about the tax paid on foreign earnings, prompting British chancellor George Osborne to announce controversial plans to offer massive tax reductions for companies engaged in research and development.
Osborne hopes the proposed incentives will help halt the exodus of pharma companies like Pfizer and Novartis to countries with more favourable tax climates.
Days after announcing cuts at the Horsham site, Novartis has revealed plans to expand its sales force in China this year as it aims to capitalise on the expanding Chinese market by selling more drugs to local hospitals and health clinics.
The company saw sales in the country slow over the last year due, it claims, to business restructuring after the decentralisation of its headquarters from Beijing to regional offices.
Novartis currently employs around 5,000 people in China, but has not specified how many new jobs will be created.