When Roche acquired Genentech Inc. in 2009, it was clear the pharma's Nutley, N.J., facility had been underperforming for years. Three years later, the continued poor performance of the Nutley site made it an obvious target for cost-cutting as the pharma reorganizes R&D to free up funds for its growing clinical pipeline.

Freeing up capital became more urgent in May after the Phase III blowup of dalcetrapib, which was supposed to be a cardiovascular blockbuster.