Bristol-Myers chops clinical staff as site closure enters endgame

Axe and chopping block
The mass layoff marks an escalation of Bristol-Myers’ retreat from Wallingford. (Image: Pixabay/sierramurray)

Bristol-Myers Squibb is set to lay off 107 staffers at its Wallingford, Connecticut, site as its planned closure of the facility gathers pace. Having earmarked the site for staff reductions in 2015, Bristol-Myers is now doling out pink slips at an accelerating rate as it gets closer to shuttering by the end of the year. 

Bristol-Myers disclosed the latest batch of layoffs in a WARN notice, details of which were first picked up by local publication The Record-Journal. The paper also acquired a breakdown of the functions that will be affected by the latest round of cuts, which reveals clinical managers and people in related roles will bear the brunt of the layoffs. Bristol-Myers will part company with the staff in early April.

The mass layoff marks an escalation of Bristol-Myers’ retreat from Wallingford. Over the past few years, BMS has steadily chipped away at its headcount, with waves of layoffs in the past 12 months bringing the number of people at the site down to a reported 400. Many of the layoffs only affected 10 or so staffers at a time. Now, BMS is carving off swathes of staff.

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Bristol-Myers framed the cuts as part of its broader R&D reorganization, with a spokesperson saying the actions “are consistent with the evolution of the company’s operating model and announced initiatives to focus resources at locations in the heart of vibrant ecosystems of academia, world-class science, innovation and business opportunities.”

That strategy, which mirrors the hub-focused R&D models of other leading biopharma companies, leaves Connecticut out in the cold. Bristol-Myers originally planned to relocate many Wallingford staff to a new development site in the state. But it dropped plans to build the Connecticut facility when it committed to a broader reorganization late in 2016. Those actions also hit sites in New Jersey and Washington.

RELATED: Bristol-Myers rips up its R&D group, adding, eliminating and moving 800-plus

California and Massachusetts are the predictable beneficiaries of the actions. Bristol-Myers is taking on additional R&D staff in Redwood City, California, as it expands that site. And its headcount in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will jump when it opens its new discovery center in the biotech hotspot later this year. The drug developer thinks this hub-centered model will equip it to prosper.

“These changes will ensure we have the structural, operational and financial flexibility to deliver as effectively as possible on our mission for patients. Our decisions will focus our resources, simplify our work and integrate our efforts based on the needs of our business and the size of our company,  today and in the future,” the company spokesperson said.