The drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline said Wednesday that it would cut hundreds of jobs in the United States, with the Philadelphia region gaining and losing positions, as it begins a three-year process of eliminating $1.57 billion in annual expenses.

London-based GSK will significantly reduce its research and development operation in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, moving some of those positions and people to facilities in Upper Merion and Upper Providence, Montgomery County. However, some Philadelphia-area employees in commercial divisions will be laid off, with departures starting early in 2015.

GSK posted a layoff notice on the North Carolina Department of Commerce website saying it would lay off about 900 people by March 31, 2015. The company has 4,500 employees in North Carolina. The corresponding websites for Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where GSK also has facilities, did not have a notice of job cuts.

GSK said "several hundred" jobs would be eliminated from its overall United States R&D operation and a similar number in commercial positions. A spokeswoman said more precise numbers - overall and for Philadelphia - were not available Wednesday because management was still assessing what units and people would remain with the company. That process will last months, the company said.

The restructuring, announced in broad terms in October, will run through the end of 2016. GSK had 99,451 employees at the end of last year, with 17,000 in the United States.

Besides Upper Merion and Upper Providence, GSK employs more than 1,000 people at a new building in Philadelphia's Navy Yard. It also has facilities in Conshohocken, Pittsburgh, and Marietta, Lancaster County, along with Parsippany, N.J.

GSK was doing research, big or small, at 34 different sites, and Wednesday's move is part of an attempt to consolidate them. The company said facilities in the Philadelphia region and in Stevenage, north of London, would be its research hubs.

GSK had about 2,000 full-time R&D employees in North Carolina, with 500 more working as contractors. "Some R&D roles will be relocated to the Philadelphia area and some staff will be offered relocation," GSK said in a statement.

North American Pharmaceuticals chief Deirdre Connelly, who is based at the Navy Yard, addressed U.S. employees from North Carolina Wednesday morning, and group meetings were being conducted with employees throughout the day.

In April, GSK and Novartis signed a multibillion-dollar, three-pronged deal that involved GSK giving Novartis its current oncology drugs in exchange for all but one of Novartis's vaccines, cash, and the majority stake in a joint venture to sell nonprescription consumer products. That deal won't close until the middle of 2015, but how the pieces eventually fit will play some role in which people have jobs in those companies.

For Wednesday, the GSK focus was narrowing the pharmaceutical operations with the most profit potential.

"Retail sales teams focused on launching new medicines to the market will largely not be affected," GSK said in the statement. "Our proposed changes to R&D will sharpen the focus in discovery and development, and reduce funding in certain areas of the pipeline."

BY THE NUMBERS

99,451

GSK employees worldwide.

17,000

GSK employees

in the U.S.

34

Sites worldwide where GSK is conducting research.EndText