AstraZeneca to axe 1,600 jobs in overhaul of drug R&D

Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:17pm EDT
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca is to cut around 1,600 jobs as it overhauls research operations and consolidates drug development work in three major centers in Britain, the United States and Sweden.

The move will see the end of drug development at AstraZeneca's Alderley Park facility in northwest England, for many years a hub of the group's research and development (R&D) efforts, the drugmaker said on Monday.

New Chief Executive Pascal Soriot, who will present his detailed strategy plans for the group to investors on March 21, said the program would lead to $1.4 billion in one-time restructuring charges. Annualized benefits of the overhaul are expected to reach approximately $190 million by 2016.

Soriot told Reuters that future R&D would be more intently focused on three key therapy areas - cancer; cardiovascular and metabolism disorders; and respiratory and inflammatory diseases - with reduced spending on anti-infectives and neuroscience.

The decision to spend less on infection, which comes at a time when health officials are warning of a lack of new drugs to fight antibiotic resistance, highlights the reluctance of drug firms to invest in an area with poor returns.

AstraZeneca also aims to step up its pace of deal-making to replenish a sparse drug pipeline and Soriot said the emphasis would be on finding promising products in the three priority areas via a series of licensing deals and acquisitions.

"We can succeed and return to growth without a large deal. Our focus will be more on a string of business development initiatives and bolt-on acquisitions," he added in an interview.


Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, poses for a photograph in this undated picture provided by AstraZeneca in London on March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Marcus Lyon/AstraZeneca/Handout/Files