The drugs don't work: more jobs to go at AstraZeneca

The drugs maker has revealed plans to cut another 2,300 jobs, on top of 1,600 casualties it announced earlier this week. You might need some aspirin if you're going to read on...

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

We can only imagine it is the outcome of some extremely heated boardroom discussions, but as part of AstraZeneca’s three-year plan for restructuring the business, it has revealed that the total number of jobs to be lost will hit almost 4,000 globally. It already announced that 1,600 posts were to be cut earlier this week, as well as the closure of a large research and development unit at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

The firm explained that this element of the strategy was aimed at getting the firm to concentrate on its three ‘core therapy areas’, and that this latest raft of job cuts will be mainly from its sales and administration division. A textbook piece of back-office ‘efficiency’ being sought here. 

The three core therapy areas to which it refers are respiratory, cardiovascular and cancer treatments, and the firm is apparently planning to double the number of different drug products that it has near the end of the development phase within three years.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said: ‘In setting out our strategy today, we are making an unambiguous commitment to concentrate our efforts and resources on our priority growth platforms and our priority pipeline projects.’ For any jargon-lovers out there, Soriot has certainly passed the ‘corporate speak’ test with a line like that.

Verbose quotes aside, though, Soriot said that he reckons sales will beat the analysts expectations of $21.5bn in 2018 without having to look at acquiring any other large drug companies. The firm is facing ‘headwinds’, he conceded, as the patent on Seroquel, its super-successful Schizophrenia drug, is about to expire meaning all other drug companies are allowed to start producing it.

Still, Soriot has been drafted in to turn the company around, it seems. He only joined the company last October, as a replacement following David Brennan’s resignation. Implementing this haircut – there will still be 53,000 staff left – could be just the medicine the firm needs.

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