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Novartis debates future of Horsham site

UK research centre could close

Novartis Horsham UK 

Novartis has started a consultation process that could result in the complete closure of site in Horsham, UK, after downsizing the facility in 2011.

The company said yesterday it "will initiate consultation on proposals to close its Horsham site in West Sussex”. It added: "[T]hese proposals will impact up to 371 roles, but will be subject to an employee consultation process and final UK board approval." Another 170 local contractors are also facing job losses.

The future for Horsham has looked rocky for some time, as Novartis convened a crisis meeting in the UK a year ago and warned the UK Government that the country was failing to keep up with emerging economies in supporting the pharma industry.

The company said the UK was hampered by slow take-up of new drugs by the NHS and difficulties in carrying out clinical research.

In a statement, Novartis said the consultation process in Horsham "is the result of a global review of research operations and realignment of our other global R&D sites."

"Novartis continually evaluates its resource allocation to ensure that the organisation is highly flexible and able to proactively adapt to external challenges to best meet the needs of patients and customers," it added.

Horsham is the site of one of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), focusing on respiratory research and specifically discovery chemistry, biomarkers and metabolism/pharmacokinetics. The decision to consider closure is something of a surprise, however, as the company submitted a planning application towards the end of last year that envisaged a redevelopment of the site.

Manufacturing at Horsham was shut down in 2011 with the loss of 550 jobs, and at the same time gastrointestinal research was shifted to sites in Basel and Cambridge.

The news is another blow to the UK's credentials as a hub for pharma R&D, following closure of Pfizer's campus in Sandwich and sweeping reductions at AstraZeneca, including the closure of its Charnwood unit in 2010 and the transfer of already-downsized operations at Alderley Park to Cambridge.

Just a few days ago AZ announced it was also closing its environmental facility at Brixham in Devon with the loss of 70 jobs.

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th November 2013

From: Research

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