Novartis announced on Wednesday that it is shutting down its Cell and Gene Therapy unit and “reintegrating activities” from these units into the wider organization, which will eliminate approximately 120 jobs.
However, according to Novartis, most of these employees will be reassigned to other areas.
Despite this move, Novartis assures the public that it remains committed to its cancer-fighting CAR-T cell program.
“It’s not like we’re abandoning the technology or abandoning the project,” explained Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff, adding “we’re sticking with it. CTL109 remains on track.”
According to an article in Bloomberg:
Cell and gene therapy development will no longer be housed in a separate division, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement. The change won’t affect a plan to apply for U.S. approval early next year for a type of cell therapy, called a CAR-T, for children with an aggressive form of blood cancer, Novartis said. The therapy, known as CTL019, will be submitted for European approval later next year.
“Today’s news on Novartis is really a pattern seen with other bigger pharmaceuticals companies such as Pfizer. Big pharma has found that focusing on licensing deals with smaller, focused biotechnology companies is the better route as these biotechs have focused their businesses, making them nimble and able to deal effectively with every aspect of the discovery and development of new therapies, including the complex manufacturing needed to produce highly sensitive biologics,” said Karine Kleinhaus, VP North America, Pluristem Therapeutics.
Following its corporate makeover to focus on specific areas and the acquisition of its oncology assets from GSK, Novartis split its pharmaceutical division into two business units earlier this year—one of which focused on cancer and the second on other drugs: Novartis Pharmaceutical and Novartis Oncology.
Falling 1.2 percent to 77.20 Swiss francs in Zurich trading yesterday, Novartis’ stock has dropped 11 percent this year.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery