Roche to shrink product development team, mainly impacting contractors

Roche plans to lay off a few hundred people in its product development team, the pharma confirmed to Fierce Biotech.

The Swiss drug developer chalked the layoffs up to a normal review of the business “to ensure ongoing improvement and sustained readiness,” according to a statement from a company spokesperson on Friday. Roche says it expects “the majority of the proposed headcount reduction to impact external contractors” with less than 6% of the permanent product development team potentially impacted.

While the specific number of full-time employees at risk was not disclosed, Roche said it would be less than 340.

“Despite these adjustments and any prospective developments in our company's operations as a whole, we project that the overall workforce at Roche will remain stable throughout 2024,” the spokesperson added. 

The news was first reported by Swiss outlet, which said 345 employees will be impacted, citing an information event for those being laid off. 

The layoffs come a week after the pharma unit reported 7% growth in non-COVID sales, led by eye disease drug Vabysmo. Roche also reported sustained growth across the oncology businesses, including Tecentriq and Phesgo, a fixed-dose combo of Perjeta and Herceptin. But across the whole company, sales rose just 1%, and actually fell 7% because of a strong Swiss franc. 

It’s at least the second round of cuts to the product development team in less than four years, after the company cut between 300 and 400 jobs back in July 2021. Those layoffs spanned employees working in project management, learning and development, coaching, administrative support and other business support roles, according to a Reuters report at the time. A year before, in 2020, Roche-owned Genentech cut nearly 500 jobs.