More jobs go at AstraZeneca as boss Soriot axes 2300 posts


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The Independent Online

The new boss of AstraZeneca took the knife to his workforce for the second time in under a week today, axing 2300 of his salesforce and administrator posts and taking the drugmaker’s job losses to more than 11,000 over the past year.

Britain’s second-biggest pharmaceuticals firm refused to say where most of the latest jobs would go, but it employs 6700 people in the UK and staff in this country were worst-hit by job cuts announced on Monday, which included the closure of Astra’s Alderley Park R&D facility.

The drugs giant said it will spend $2.3 billion (£1.51 billion) cutting 10% of its staff over the next three years as chief executive Pascal Soriot attempts to find a way back from Astra’s falling medicine sales and a string of test drug failures.

Its two best-selling drugs, ulcer treatment Nexium and cholesterol-buster Crestor, fall out of patent protection in the crucial US market in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

The drugmaker is expected to splash out on more bolt-on acquisitions in a bid to fix its weak pipeline, and Soriot said Astra will also focus its research on three medical areas: cancer, respiratory and inflammation diseases, and cardiovascular and metabolic disease. However, the company will cut spending on infection, vaccines and neuroscience.

“We are making an unambiguous commitment to concentrate our efforts and resources on our priority growth platforms and our priority pipeline projects,” Soriot said.

But unlike rivals such as GlaxoSmithKline, Soriot ruled out the strategy of diversifying away from prescription medicines to over-the-counter products.