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Novartis Building Mug, 4.22.14

GlaxoSmithKline has not announced any specific plans for the Lincoln plant at 10401 U.S. 6.

Novartis on Thursday eliminated another 75 jobs at its plant east of Lincoln.

Novartis spokeswoman Julie Masow said 44 people were laid off and 31 open positions were eliminated.

Masow said the cuts were the third phase of a plan Novartis announced in April 2013 to reduce production at the plant at 10401 U.S. 6 and eliminate about 40 percent of the workforce.

The restructuring announcement was in response to a shutdown of production at the plant that started in December 2011 after inspections by the Food and Drug Administration revealed serious quality-control problems that led to thousands of customer complaints.

Novartis, which for years had manufactured nearly all its over-the-counter medicines in Lincoln, cut back to just two: Excedrin and TheraFlu. The plant also produces the animal health product Sentinel.

In earlier rounds of cuts, Novartis laid off 72 workers and eliminated 41 positions in May 2013, and laid off 27 people and eliminated another 58 jobs in January of this year.

The company had earlier said the third round of layoffs would not come until next year, but Masow said the plan was ahead of schedule.

She said the layoffs coming earlier than previously announced had nothing to do with Novartis's planned joint venture with Glaxo SmithKline announced earlier this year.

As part of that deal, Glaxo SmithKline will own 63.5 percent of Novartis' over-the-counter drug business and will take over management of its production facilities.

The deal is set to be finalized sometime in the first half of 2015, and neither company has said whether there will be any changes at the Lincoln plant or any other plants that make over-the-counter medicines.

With the latest round of job cuts, there are now about 500 Novartis employees in Lincoln, Masow said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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