Novartis still cutting jobs, but Cambridge employees are safe

Swiss drug maker has 2,100 workers locally

Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, which yesterday unveiled a retrenchment plan that includes eliminating 2,000 positions in the United States and Europe, this morning said no jobs will be cut at its Cambridge sites, where the company has 2,100 employees.

Jeff Lockwood, Novartis’s executive director of communications, said layoffs in the United States will be mostly at the company’s pharmaceutical division. Cambridge is world headquarters of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, the drug maker’s research and development engine, and also houses a vaccines and diagnostics unit.

“This will not impact jobs in Cambridge, period,’’ Lockwood said from Switzerland, where Novartis has its corporate offices.

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The company yesterday said it would save $200 million a year by eliminating 2,000 jobs, including 1,000 in Switzerland and 900 in the United States, at a time when health care budget cuts are expected to reduce drug reimbursements from government and private payers. But it wouldn’t specify where the US cuts would be made.

Lockwood said Novartis remains on track with a five-year plan that will add 200 to 300 jobs to its research operation locally and expand its complex of labs in Cambridge. Its local researchers are focusing on developing drugs that give them a better understanding of the molecular pathways that control multiple diseases.

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