Shire expects to sack 500 or more employees, while Merck and GSK also wield the axe

Speciality pharmaceutical firm Shire anticipates laying off 500 to 600 employees at its US site in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania as the company moves its US headquarters to Lexington, Massachusetts. Shire will transfer a substantial number of workers there between now and March 2016, and the final number of layoffs will depend on how many employees relocate.

Meanwhile, US pharmaceutical powerhouse Merck & Co is downsizing Cubist’s R&D department by approximately 120 employees, following its December 2014 purchase of the antibiotics specialist. As part of the ongoing integration, Merck says it has made the ‘difficult decision’ to discontinue discovery and non-clinical operations in Lexington, but will continue to invest in anti-infective R&D. Selected Cubist discovery projects will transfer to other Merck sites, and development of later stage candidates will continue as planned.

At the same time, the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is sacking about 110 of its employees in China, following the bribery scandal for which the firm was prosecuted last year. The legal case resulted in Yuan3 billion (£300 million) in fines for the company and jail terms for several GSK China executives. GSK says it has now increased expense claim monitoring and compliance efforts, and has taken disciplinary action against the employees involved.