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Roche to shutter Nutley site, cut 1K jobs

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Swiss drug company Roche said Tuesday it will shutter its Nutley operations by the end of next year and shed 1,000 jobs as a result of a restructuring of its global pharmaceutical development operations.

Nutley's discovery research activities will be consolidated in Switzerland and Germany, the company said. Roche will continue to employ about 400 people at a diagnostics facility in Branchburg once the changes are complete.

"Nutley's legacy and footprint — as a much larger former regional headquarters and manufacturing site — left us with an expensive and oversized infrastructure," said Tom Lyon, Roche's Nutley site head, in a statement announcing the coming closure. "While we have made notable progress to cut costs by more than 50 percent in the past two and a half years, it was not enough."

Lyon said the Nutley site currently hosts three discovery and translational research areas. The inflammation unit will be closed, while the oncology and virology units will be consolidated at other sites, "where there will be synergies and economies of scale."

"As a result of the global consolidation within R&D … Nutley will no longer have a critical mass of employees or functions that would allow us to remain a viable part of the Roche organization," Lyon added.

Darien Wilson, a company spokeswoman, said the company informed the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices, as well as members of the state's congressional delegation and local officials in Nutley and Clifton, before making today's announcement. However, she said the calls were simply courtesy calls after the decision to close the site was made.

Wilson said the company will be working with affected employees over the coming months, providing job fairs, career development opportunities and other resources to help them find work.

The move means Roche will no longer conduct laboratory research on the East Coast, though the company said it plans to set up a translational clinical research center on the East Coast to support U.S.-based clinical trials and early development programs, and to keep close contact with the Food and Drug Administration and the company's U.S. based partners. About 240 of the Nutley jobs will be transferred to the translational research center, which is slated to open by January. The company has yet to select a site for that center; Wilson said the search for a location would formally begin Wednesday.

Roche has been in Nutley for more than 80 years. The company said it will cease operations at the site by the end of 2013, and finish shutting down the site by the end of 2015.

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