Novartis Dissolves Its Cell Therapy Unit, Cutting 120 Positions

Novartis AG said it will fold its specialized cell and gene therapies unit into other parts of the company, leading to about 120 job cuts months before seeking approval for a new type of cancer treatment.

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.

“Novartis is committed to the ongoing development of CAR-T therapies and remains well positioned to successfully launch CTL019,” the company said.

The Swiss drugmaker, Europe’s second-largest by sales, in May said it would create separate units for cancer treatments and for other medicines following the acquisition of oncology assets from GlaxoSmithKline Plc. While an isolated cell-therapy unit worked well under the previous structure, work on such medicines will be more efficient with the reorganization, Novartis said. Most of the affected jobs are in the U.S.

Novartis fell 1.2 percent to 77.20 Swiss francs at 5:18 p.m. in Zurich trading. The stock has dropped 11 percent this year.

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