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A recession in 2023 is highly probable. Some two-thirds of economists surveyed at the World Economic Forum in Davos said they anticipated an economic downturn this year. 

Given the difficult economic situation, a growing number of pharmaceutical firms are reducing staff. Several companies announced cuts at the end of 2022, including Catalent and Novartis. 

The following is a list of some significant pharma layoffs announced at the outset of 2023.

Amgen cuts 300 workers 

The company is undergoing a restructuring effort that includes layoffs of around 300 employees. The pharma layoffs will primarily affect employees in the commercial team based in the U.S., according to a report obtained from Endpoints

Merck KGaA lays off 133

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is letting go of 133 jobs in Billerica, Massachusetts, as part of a restructuring effort, according to Boston Business Journal. In 2019, the company announced that it was investing $70 million in the expansion of the EMD Serono facility in the city, which then employed about 700 workers. The recent layoffs equate to an approximately 26% decrease in staff in Billerica, consisting of about 500 employees, and an 11% decrease in its U.S.-based EMD Serono employee base.

Cyteir Therapeutics slashes roughly 70% of its workers 

The Lexington, Massachusetts–based company said it would cut its workforce by 70% to about 15 full-time employees. The company previously had more than 50 workers. The pared-down company will focus development efforts on an experimental monocarboxylate transporter inhibitor known as CYT-0851 for ovarian cancer. The company said it would suspend enrollment in the Phase 2 monotherapy cohorts involving CYT-0851 owing to insufficient monotherapy efficacy. The company said it would release Phase 1 combination data for CYT-0851 in mid-2023. 

Instil Bio

Instil Bio (Nasdaq:TIL) said it would reduce its U.S. workforce to a team of roughly 15 employees while consolidating clinical manufacturing and trial operations of its genetically-engineered CoStAR-TIL therapy to Manchester, UK. In December 2022, the company announced that it would halt the development of its unmodified tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, ITIL-168, and cut 60% of its workers. On the employer review site Glassdoor, the company has an average review of 2.2 stars out of five. Some 14% of reviewers said they would recommend the company to a friend. 

ReNeuron to cut 40% of workers

The Bridgend, Wales-based stem cell company ReNeuron said it would cut four out of ten workers to give it cash flow until 2024. The biotech had 36 people in its 2022 financial year. Its previous CEO, Catherine Isted, recently resigned. She joined on September 1, 2022. Chair Iain Ross will assume the CEO role. The company is developing exosome technology and has a variety of partners. Its legacy portfolio includes transferring its stroke technology to Fosun Pharma in a £6 million deal.

Elevation Oncology slashes 30% of its workers

The New York City–based company said it would pare down its focus on EO-3021, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) targeting Claudin18.2 and a handful of pipeline drugs Caris Life Sciences.

Editas axes one-fifth of its workers

Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Editas announced that it was cutting 60 employees to sharpen its focus on its blood disease medication EDIT-301. The company is developing the one-time investigational therapy for severe sickle cell and beta-thalassemia. Editas also announced on January 9 that it would discontinue internal investments in its inherited retinal disease (IRD) programs and multiplexed edited induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived natural killer (iNK) cell programs,

TCR² Therapeutics cuts 40% of its staff

Cambridge, Massachusetts–headquartered TCR² Therapeutics (Nasdaq: TCRR) has announced another 40% cut in staffing, making it the second round of layoffs in half a year. The company also said it would focus on its ovarian cancer cohort in the Phase 2 clinical trial of gavo-cel, and it would ramp up the development of its second-generation enhanced TRuC T-cell therapy programs, TC-510 and TC-520. According to the company, the layoffs were necessary as a result of difficult capital market conditions. TCR² Therapeutics CEO Garry Menzel stated that the company is thus obliged to concentrate on producing short-term clinical data in high-demand therapeutic areas with the highest chances of commercial success.

Y-mAbs Therapeutics reduced workforce by 35%

After the FDA rejected its drug for pediatric cancer, omburtamab, Y-mAbs Therapeutics has announced significant downsizing affecting its employee base and pipeline. Late last year, an FDA advisory committee overwhelmingly rejected omburtamab’s approval for treating brain and spinal cord tumors in children with neuroblastoma. Panel members were unconvinced by the single-arm study’s evidence of the therapy’s effectiveness, leading to the FDA’s December rejection of the drug candidate. In addition, several law firms have announced that they are pursuing litigation against the company. 

Fate cuts half of its workforce

Biotech firm Fate Therapeutics (La Jolla, California), which aims to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer using cell-based therapies, has scaled back its workforce and drug development programs as a result of an early end of a deal with Janssen. Fate announced a global partnership with Janssen focused on novel iPSC-derived cell-based cancer immunotherapies in 2020. The layoffs will affect about 315 employees. The restructuring effort will reduce the company’s workforce to 220 by the end of the first quarter of 2023. Pitchbook data shows Fate employed 545 people in 2022, up from the 449 cited in its 2021 annual report.

Century Therapeutics eliminates one-quarter of its workforce

The Philadelphia-based company said it planned to trim 25% of its workforce, closing lab operations and pare down its research operations in Philadelphia. It will sharpen its focus on CNTY-101 and prioritize programs such as CNTY-102, a follow-on product for lymphoma, and CNTY-107, a product for Nectin-4+ tumors. Century also said it would reduce investment in CNTY-103 for glioblastoma and a discovery program in blood cancers. Century said in an announcement that its efforts to streamline its business would extend its cash runway to 2026

Hundreds of workers at Sanofi Indian vaccine plants offered retirement plan

Approximately 800 Sanofi employees in India could be affected by a downsizing initiative, according to Reuters. The related plants produce vaccines against hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus. They also have insulin packaging facilities. Sanofi currently employees about 5,000 people in India.