Roche Pharma Will Close Nutley Plant

Reuters reported this afternoon that the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche will shut down its plant in Nutley as part of a research overhaul, resulting in 1,000 job cuts. 

The plant’s activities will be moved to Switzerland and Germany, in an attempt to reduce drug development costs on experimental research.

From Reuters:

“The planned consolidation of our research and early development organization and the refocusing of research and development activities in Switzerland and Germany will free up resources that we can invest in these promising clinical programs while also increasing our overall efficiency,” Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan said in a statement.

The move allows Roche to keep its research and drug development costs largely unchanged, despite an increase in clinical research projects in the last 18 months, Schwan said.

“Workers were notified today at a town hall meeting,” said  Roche’s Nutley-based Director of Public Affairs, Darien E. Wilson. “We’re notifing everyone on the site by August of what their time frames for transition will be.”

Roche is seeking to open a trial and development center on the east coast. About 240 workers from Nutley will be offered positions at the new center, according to Wilson. The Translational Clinical Research Center will support trials and early development programs.  There is currently no date set for its opening, but it is projected to open in January 2013.

Here is an excerpt from CEO Severin Schwan’s official statement:

The first one was the overall evaluation of our portfolio and our assessment of the prospects for success with a number of compounds in Nutley, in particular in the area of inflammation, but also in other parts of our portfolio. In spite of the progress made on a number of fronts, the output was not enough relative to the resources we have been allocating to Nutley and compared with more promising projects at other locations.

The other reason is the specific cost structure in Nutley. Because Nutley was once a much larger operation housing our North American Pharma headquarters and its full range of activities, the 127-acre site, as a pRED facility, has been burdened with an oversized infrastructure. Although tremendous efforts have been made to cut costs, regrettably, it was not enough. Nutley does not have the critical mass as a single-purpose research site to justify the infrastructure cost, and pRED as a whole can no longer afford to maintain important support functions such as chemistry and non-clinical safety at both Nutley and our sites in Europe.

Thus the pRED consolidation comes with a bitter price: the loss of approximately 1,000 jobs worldwide, most of them in Nutley, where operations will cease by the end of 2013. On behalf of myself, and of Roche, I pledge to treat those of you who are leaving the company with dignity, compassion and respect.

Wilson told Baristanet in November 2010 that the overhaul program entitled “Operation Excellence” would result in the loss of 900 positions, mainly in Product Development. The drug company’s global workforce was reduced by 4,800, with a total of 6,300 affected by the combination of planned job reductions and transfers.


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  1. Wow, that is a shame. Roche has been in Nutley for so long – and 1000 jobs being lost will hurt the area.

  2. I guess I will ask the question: What are they going to do with the 127 acres???

    That compound is huge, they have their own fire department

  3. Perhaps Pinnacle can build a few apartment buildings there. Seriously, this is really a shame.

  4. Are they planning to clean it up on their way out? Companies were pretty casual in the past about hazardous waste disposal. There is bound to be contamination on that site.

  5. My dad worked on site there for over 10 years putting up most of the buildings in the 1960’s, my husband worked there for over 15 years and I worked there for 5. Very sad to see it shut down.

    Kit – I must say that Roche was/is very diligent about hazardous waste disposal – while I am sure there will need to be some remediation, it is not a contaminated site by any stretch of the imagination.

  6. Oh wow, that’s awful news, especially in this economy. A lot of our neighbors will be affected. I hope that site doesn’t stay abandoned for long. It would be such a shame.

  7. Sad news. A Nutley resident once told me that a good chunk of the land is in Clifton along with much of the tax income. The high rise may be a lure for some NYC back office businesses

  8. Didn’t they just do a complete overhaul of the main building? At least NJ has a large concentration of pharmaceutical companies, so that the employees will hopefully be able to find positions elsewhere, and the site could potentially appeal to another company in the industry. Really bad news.

  9. And just where are these people going to find jobs? …..nowhere. Thanks for finding jobs for your 240 chosen ones. The other 760 hard working, dedicated, sacrificing, loyal jerks..GoFY. Hey!. There’s lots of government program for them. Unemployment compensation & food stamps. And, they & their kids will be eliguble for charity care at the local hospital. The corporation owes more to NJ than just dumping a bunch more unemployed citizens on to the streets.

  10. NJ may have other pharmaceutical companies, but many of them have been involved in mergers and downsizing over the past few years. If 100 of the 1,000 terminated employees can find jobs in the surrounding drug co’s, it would be a lot.

  11. Would I be correct in assuming these jobs were well paying? I realize the employees were probably not killing it, but I was under the impression that those in pharma R&D did pretty well. This event was pretty predictable and Im sure the employees knew their time was short, hopefully they have prepared accordingly.

    The interesting question is what to do with the space. No need for additional retail or office. Vacancy rates in North NJ office are pretty high as is. NYC back office goes to Jersey City usually.

  12. This is real sad news… Some of those low-slung brick buildings in the back are beautiful (I’ve always assumed they were also Roche’s). And that it had a rail line going right up to its door was very cool.

    But I wonder, when will Montclair State make a bid for it?

  13. Apparently, although in recent times the company may have been diligent about hazardous waste, there must have been some contamination, according to the article linked above:

    “The company first priority upon leaving is to remediate the site, Morris said, in keeping with a company release claiming Roche will work with Clifton and Nutley to “obtain all necessary environmental certifications.”

    Remediation will take years and will be expensive, Nutley Commissioner Tom Evans said.”

  14. No whowant, you snob, you CANNOT assume these jobs were “well paying”. A place like this has security guards, janitors, cafeterier workers, data entry people, secretaries, lab assistants, etc. You CAN assume the 240 transfer jobs were “well paying”.

  15. I’ve known people who worked for what for the longest time was known as “Hoffman-LaRoche.” All seemed quite aware this day would eventually come (far more aware than most posters above, in fact), in part because so much of the company’s income depended on the production of Valium when it was a prescriptive staple. Yet patents do expire and employees always talked of this eventuality (even as they also all seemed to agree that Roche was an exceptionally genereous and concerned employer) These things do happen. So this hardly comes as a shock, I’d bet, to Roche employees.

    As for those 240 employees, it seems mean-spirited to refer to them, as someone did above somewhat snottily, as “chosen ones.” Instead, they clearly have specific scientific skills for which they should be congratulated. Good luck to ALL the Roche employees, of course.

    As to what will become of the Roche land once it’s cleaned up, the image from Biblical-era legend of Roman soldiers gambling at the foot of the Cross for Christ’s garments comes right to mind. Only with realtors and developers, large and small-scale alike, throwing dies instead of drunken centurions.

    Something similar is of course going on right now in Oceanport with the now-shuttered extensive precincts of Fort Monmouth. That one even comes with its own lovely country (officers’) club facility and golf course attached.

    I did always wonder what went on in that smallish building, with its own chain link fence round it and guards, which was called the “Roche Institute Of Molecular Biology” or some such. But then, I’ve also seen an awful lot of horror movies.

  16. It’s all bottomline mentality. Asia is taking on R&D for most companies and doing it for far less money….Although Quality Assurance always seems to be the stumbling block for all these off-shorers also the disregard for patent protection eats in to their profits. I love the Ceo’s quote…”On behalf of myself, and of Roche, I pledge to treat those of you who are leaving the company with dignity, compassion and respect.” Maybe he should stand at the gate that final day and wash everyone’s feet with his silk tie.
    Hopefully another Pharma company will buy or rent the campus for R&D. But in this economy it will probably be hacked up into an industrial park and a self-storage facility….Maybe a mall?
    They could call it Styertowne Annex.

  17. Prof, those beautiful low slung brick buildings have been torn down. If they knew they were going to move, I can’t imagine why that happened. They would have been a great space for residential or retail use. It’s a shame.

  18. I hope the Roche space doesn’t become a mall. There are too many malls on Route 3. There’s a chance Medco will close its Franklin Lakes facillity, or at least lay some people off, since the merger with Express Scripts. Too many people being added to the unemployment rolls in New Jersey.

  19. A sick set up would be luxury loft apartments (post remediation of course). Im thinking a little more spaced out in a garden type setting, tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness center, etc. I think this would be a good addition to the Rt 3 corridor. There is already enough retail and office vacancies are high in NJ so no need for office. Industrial is super weak in North NJ as well right now. Already to many SS facilities. What could be done in addition the loft apartments is a full service hotel closer to route 3. The corridor is in solid need of a Newer FS hotel and with the straight shot to NYC it does fine here being only a couple miles past the tired meadowlands hotels.

  20. Nellie, I totally agree. If they build another one of those ridiculous “lifestyle” malls (a/k/a “horribly-planned parking nightmare malls”) it will be another waste of space, at least for me. If I never go back to that *&$# mall across the street, which houses the highly insulting “Cups” store among other things, and which has quite possibly the worst parking set up I have ever seen, it will be too soon.

    And what a shame to lose another large employer like this.

    Hey! Maybe Montclair State will ask the taxpayers and students for another $90M to build a satellite campus or dorms on that site!

  21. Phrases like “post-remediation” and “once it’s cleaned up” should be accompanied by asterisks. As I am clearly seeing at the National Starch site @ 225 Belleville Avenue in Bloomfield, the DEP has been gutted to a hollow shell of itself, and is basically reduced to rubber stamping remediation plans which are designed by engineers hired by the polluters and developers. They’re being allowed to cap known carcinogens in a flood plain and build residential housing on it. Nutley should beware.

    Roche should either be taxed in perpetuity till it’s really clean, not capped, and certainly all abatements in taxes should be withheld, here and in CA until it’s fully remediated. That site too is on the Third River.

    I don’t know if the following is true, and I’d welcome anyone else to comment if they have the same memory: I have a friend from Nutley who recalled being paid by Hoffman LaRoche to find 3 legged frogs in the creek in the early ’60’s. But he was well in his cups when he told that story, and doesn’t remember it sober.

  22. @Kay – Montclair State gets just 18% of its funding from the state so not sure where the taxpayer dig is coming from. And NJ is ranked 48th in the nation on per capita spending for higher ed — we NJ citizens have no business complaining about public universities costing taxpayers.

  23. The ghost of the Red Hessian is known to haunt the Roche site. He’s still there fighting the revolutionary war.

  24. “Transition”. Charming. When I lost my job at Mutual Benefit Life (they went under) it was called “downsizing”. Then “rightsizing”. Now it’s the T word. Seriously? Do they think that makes losing your job, benefits, life any easier to take?

    I temped at Roche for about 4 years. I couldn’t believe the thousands of dollars wasted daily on everything. I started in HR and that was an eye-opening experience. Most of the departments I worked in consisted primarily of contractors and temps. We always outnumbered the “regular” employees. Roche might have been a good employer to the regulars, but the contractors were clearly the red-headed step children. Not invited to the company picnic even! Given full and them some workloads but in “contractor” works paces which in some cases were about a third of the size of the work space regulars had. I’m sure most of the people losing out now will, as usual, be those temps and contractors. It’s awful. Been there too often.

  25. The Roche complex is a big and mysterious place with a guarded fence. Sort of a Jersey-style ”Area 51” (lots of secrets and great pizza within walking distance). The activities within the fence always have spawned wildly speculative folklore. Rumor has it that one of the first operating nuclear reactors in the United States is still in use on the site, an unsettling factoid never directly confirmed or denied by the company. In the early 1970s, the buzz among local hippies was that Roche had perfected a concentrated form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingrediant in marijuana) that could be ingested as a pill–for ”medicinal purposes,” of course–but tangible evidence of this breakthrough never appeared on the streets.

    Our personal favorite is the legend of the three-legged frog, said to be a creation of genetic engineering experiments at Roche.

    According to local lore, the green multiped escaped down the sewer and slowly has been metastasizing, hiding behind trees or Martha Stewart’s childhood house in Nutley. Any day (or decade) now, it will emerge from behind the Roche tower and devour Nutley in classic 1950s horror-movie chaos.”

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