Roche has unveiled plans this morning to cut costs in response to pricing pressures and recent pipeline failures.

The Swiss giant is being coy about specific numbers but is speaking about a "group-wide Operational Excellence initiative". This is being launched "in view of mounting pressures to curb healthcare costs", especially in the USA and Europe, together with recent "developments in late-stage projects".

Roche goes on to say that it expects payers "will increasingly allocate resources to treatments and diagnostic tools providing the highest medical value". Therefore, the new initiative is "not simply a cost-reduction effort but is above all about pro-actively setting the right priorities to ensure a successful future".

The firm added that over the months ahead, "all parts of the organisation will review and analyse their respective structures and processes". Detailed decisions on the measures that will be taken "and the potential impact on staffing levels" will be announced before the end of the year.

Chief executive Severin Schwan said the initiative has been launched "from a position of strength". He added that "by contrast with many of our competitors, we are only marginally affected by patent expiries. Furthermore, despite the recent setbacks, we have one of the strongest R&D product pipelines in the industry".

Operational Excellence is scheduled for implementation during 2011 and 2012.