Shake-up at AstraZeneca sees drugs giant slash 700 UK jobs

Chancellor's constituency is hit as company closes R&D facility in Cheshire

AstraZeneca is cutting 700 jobs in the UK, most of them in George Osborne's Tatton constituency, as part of a global restructuring that will result in a total of about 1,600 redundancies.

In a move that angered unions and caused embarrassment for the Chancellor ahead of tomorrow's Budget, the pharmaceuticals group announced it would close its research and development operation at Alderley Park, Cheshire. About 500 jobs will be lost there over the next three years, and a further 1,600 positions will move to a new research and development centre in Cambridge. A further 150 UK jobs will be lost outside Alderley Park in the restructure, bringing total UK redundancies to more than 10 per cent of the company's existing workforce of 6,700 in Britain spread over eight sites. Some 700 non-R&D jobs will remain at Alderley Park. Another 650 jobs will go in the US.

The shake-up will prompt a $1.4bn (£930m) charge and also see AstraZeneca's headquarters move from London to Cambridge.

AstraZeneca sought to soothe its staff by announcing a £330m investment in its new R&D site in Cambridge, but unions still reacted angrily.

Unite's national officer Linda McCulloch said: "Staff will be shell-shocked by this announcement. AstraZeneca's decision to relocate over a thousand jobs to Cambridge is a massive blow for the North-west. The region desperately needs this highly skilled workforce – they make a huge contribution to the economy and to the community."

The GMB's national officer Allan Black added: "This is disastrous news for the UK, and the North-west in particular."

AstraZeneca's chief executive Pascal Soriot put a positive spin on the announcement, saying: "The changes we are proposing represent an exciting and important opportunity to put science at the heart of everything we do because our long-term success depends on improving R&D productivity and achieving scientific leadership."

Drugs that account for more than 40 per cent of AstraZeneca's sales, such as ulcer and heartburn treatment Nexium, will lose their patent protection by the end of next year. Furthermore, the patent losses will continue beyond next year, with the group's best-selling drug, Crestor, used to combat cholesterol, set to lose its US patent protection in 2016.

This will open some of AstraZeneca's biggest-selling drugs to competition from low-cost rivals and prompted the group to warn in January that its sales and profits would fall sharply this year. Mr Soriot, who took over the chief executive's reins from David Brennan last year after a series of drug-development setbacks, said at the time that internal R&D, rather than takeovers, were the key to growth.

In October, AstraZeneca suspended its share buyback programme to give it more money to invest in the business. Mr Soriot acknowledged the difficulties his restructuring plan would cause in the UK and pledged to make the process as smooth as possible.

"I recognise our plans will have a significant impact on many of our people at our sites in Cheshire and London and the surrounding communities. We are committed to treating all our employees with respect and fairness as we navigate this period of change," he said.

The restructuring will focus AstraZeneca's research in three centres: Gaithersburg, Maryland in the US, Molndal in Sweden and Cambridge.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible