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Amgen targets West Coast R&D jobs in latest round of cuts

November 7, 2017
Life sciences

Amgen is laying off 200 people across its R&D organization. The latest victims of the big biotech’s ongoing pursuit of efficiency gains mainly work at its facilities in California.

A spokesperson for Amgen framed the action, news of which was first reported in STAT, as part of an attempt by the company to ensure it is putting its R&D dollars to good use.

“Given the dynamic nature of our business and the need to ensure greater flexibility across our organization, we must continue to be increasingly efficient in our operational discipline and invest our resources in a way that ensures our continued scientific leadership. The organizational changes are designed to support those efforts. The impacts are across our R&D sites though the majority of impacted staff are based in California,” the spokesperson said via email.

That means another round of cuts at Amgen’s headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California, plus layoffs at its San Francisco facility. The dynamic is somewhat different from when news of cuts at the big biotech emerged in March, though.

Back then, the San Francisco facility was the beneficiary of the rejig, with 100 R&D jobs moving from Thousand Oaks to the other California facility and a site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That reshuffle fit the model followed by Amgen in recent years, over which period it has insulated the two coastal hubs from the cuts and closures affecting Thousand Oaks, Colorado and Washington.

The inclusion of the San Francisco site in the latest round of layoffs sets these cuts apart from the earlier reorganizations. But the facility is still faring better than Thousand Oaks, which has faced a series of layoffs since Amgen first began chipping away at its then-7,500 headcount in 2007. Going into the March reorganization, Amgen employed 5,500 people at the site.

Amgen CEO Bob Bradway began 2017 by telling President Donald Trump of his plans to hire 1,600 people this year. The significance of that figure was quickly downplayed by confirmation it included people hired to offset attrition elsewhere.

Over the past five years, Amgen’s total headcount has fluctuated between 17,900 and 20,000. The big biotech closed out 2016 toward the top of that range, despite the preceding years featuring a restructuring that targeted a 12% to 15% reduction in its headcount.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

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