GSK warns of possible layoffs as Barron's revised R&D strategy takes effect

GlaxoSmithKline's Stevenage, U.K., R&D site (GlaxoSmithKline/CC BY-NC 2.0)

GlaxoSmithKline is set to lay off a small number of R&D employees at its Stevenage, U.K., site as part of a wider rethink of its drug development operation. The layoffs come as GSK revises its R&D strategy under the scientific leadership of Hal Barron.

For now, all employees at the Stevenage facility remain in their jobs, but that could change as GSK works through the implications of its revised R&D strategy for staffing requirements. The facility is one of GSK’s two main R&D hubs—the other being in Philadelphia—and as such is expected to be affected by Barron’s attempts to deliver hit drugs through greater focus on genetics and immunology.

Some of the effects of the strategic rethink could be positive for Stevenage. But in revising its goals and priorities, GSK may lay off R&D staff who are no longer a good fit for the revised strategy.  

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“Since we announced our new approach to R&D in 2018, the future direction of our portfolio has become clearer, prioritizing innovation and moving towards delivering a pipeline of transformational medicines with a focus on immunology, genetically validated targets, and finding platforms and technologies that amplify our science.

“As the business aligns to this new approach we have identified where changes are necessary to ensure we can fully support our evolving pipeline priorities. We anticipate a small number of roles will be directly impacted by these changes but continue to expect GSK’s R&D operations to grow overall with increased investment,” a spokesperson for GSK said via email.  

Local Stevenage newspaper The Comet first picked up the news, which was subsequently confirmed by GSK in the statement shared with FierceBiotech. However, the issues that underpin the potential layoffs aren’t specific to Stevenage, suggesting other sites may be affected by the R&D rethink. 

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