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21 April 2014
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J&J shuts local research division

COST cutting at global pharma companies has finally hit the Australian sector, with Johnson & Johnson announcing this afternoon that the company would close its Sydney research facility.

The decision, which will see around 75 staff at the Refern Technology Park facility lose their jobs, was driven by global cost cutting according to the company.

While J&J has not set a definite timetable for the final closure of the facility, a spokesman for the company said the operations of the research centre would be reviewed over the next few months before a final date was set.

Australian researchers had been working on a number of projects for the company, including molecular diagnostics, cell delivered gene therapies and novel RNA therapeutics.

“The difficult decision to close the facility was driven by the need to rationalise J&J’s international pharmaceutical research and development efforts in order to achieve greater efficiencies and maintain the company’s strong financial position,” the company said in a statement this afternoon.

“The closure comes after a global review of the company’s pharmaceutical operations brought about by a need to reduce costs at a time where the company and the industry in general faces a number of patent expiries, coupled with some delays in the registration of pipeline products.”

Local management said the company “deeply regrets the circumstances that have led to this decision, and the impact this will have on employees and their families”.

J&J said there may be some hope for displaced employees, however, saying that some researchers would be offered alternative roles at the company.

The company also said it may look at the possibility of spinning out the research projects and intellectual property into a new Australia-based company – though the global giant made no mention of how such a new company might be funded.

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