Eli Lilly will axe 130 staffers as it shutters Singapore R&D center

Determined to winkle out any inefficiencies it can seize on, Eli Lilly says it will shutter its recently expanded Singapore R&D center, a heavy blow for the 130 workers on site as well as the country's economic development group, which has been providing lavish subsidies to build its biopharma industry.

Lilly says it will close its Singapore Center for Drug Discovery in December as it continues its worldwide hunt for cost savings. A spokesperson tells Dow Jones that the pharma giant will cherry pick the best research programs now under way and shift them to the company's world headquarters in Indianapolis. Lilly inked a $1.6 billion R&D pact with Covance back in 2008, handing over its early development campus and access to hundreds of workers as Covance agreed to provide 10 years of development work under contract.

The Singapore center was a joint collaboration with the ambitious Singapore Economic Development Board. They'll now look for someone else to fill Lilly's shoes.

"We regret Lilly's decision to close the Lilly Singapore Center for Drug Discovery, and are working closely with the company to place affected staff," says EDB Director of Biomedical Sciences Beh Kian Teik.

- here's the Dow Jones report