3. Novartis

One of the biggest R&D stories to come out from Novartis in 2016 was in fact a negative one.

R&D budget: $9 billion
Change from 2015: Up 0.8%
Total 2016 revenue: $48.5 billion
R&D budget as percentage of revenue: 18.5%

Novartis has in recent years remained a big hitter in the R&D stakes, and it continued its run with an impressive $9 billion spent on R&D last year—although this was only slightly up on the $8.93 billion it had spent the year before.

One of the biggest R&D stories to come out from Novartis in 2016 was in fact a negative one: In August, the Switzerland-based big pharma said that it was planning to redeploy most of those 400 employees from its cutting-edge cell and gene therapy unit. Around 120 employees were set for the ax, according to reports, and that came only two years after the unit was formally created.

That unit is responsible for one of Novartis’ biggest future launches—its CAR-T med CTL019 in certain blood cancers. The drug could hit the market this year, setting up a battle with rival biotech Kite and its CAR-T offering KTE-C19.

The unit still appears to have a large focus on this area, but its downsizing (along with a small exodus of senior R&D heads in 2016) raised eyebrows.

RELATED: FierceBiotech’s Rotten Tomatoes: Novartis, (Dis)honorable mention

Novartis also announced another research revamp last year when announcing that it was moving its Singapore research base for dengue fever and malaria over to California. In turn, that reduced the headcount at its Zurich facility and its China biologics group.

The company said that it would be closing down the Shanghai biologics group and shift its Institute for Tropical Diseases in Singapore to the San Francisco area to “centralize its scientists.” It has just under 100 staffers there, but it kept mum on how many it may cut in the process.

Still, it did bulk out its pipeline with some bolt-on buys, including its $665 million for sickle cell player Selexys, its deal to obtain U.K. biotech Ziarco and its midstage leading eczema candidate ZPL-389.

>> Check out Novartis’ pipeline.

3. Novartis