Novartis' layoff ax falls on 183 R&D workers

After announcing that big cuts were in the offing back in October, Novartis ($NVS) has handed pink slips to 183 employees as the Swiss drug giant moves clinical development work from the U.S. and Switzerland to low-cost regions such as China, The Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.

The cuts are part of a global shift in pharma toward emerging markets, where skilled labor is still relatively cheap and business growth rapid. According to The Star-Ledger article, people who worked as clinical research associates and field monitors were handed their walking papers, and a total of 38 jobs in New Jersey will get axed from the payroll. Novartis' plans call for a total of 2,000 job cuts in research, trial monitoring, data management, regulatory, epidemiology and safety, the company said in October.

While Novartis workers in the U.S. and Switzerland are being shown the door, the company anticipates adding 700 people in China and India to fill in the labor gaps. In addition to low-cost labor, drug companies are emphasizing burgeoning markets such as China and India as key geographies for future business growth. At the same time, regulators in Europe have been refusing to pay for new drugs that Novartis and its peers are developing, prompting drugmakers to seek cost cuts.

- here's the report from The Star-Ledger