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AstraZeneca to cut 1,350 ‘operations support’ jobs

By Gareth Macdonald , 02-Feb-2012

AstraZeneca will cut 1,350 operations jobs in the next few years as part of wide ranging restructuring move.

The UK drugmaker announced plans to eliminate around 7,300 positions in total to generate $1.6bn (€1.2bn) a year by 2014. It did not specify which operations would be affected by the cuts, but did hint that manufacturing support functions may be the focus.

The new programme will drive further efficiency in the supply chain, with a particular focus on support functions in Operations.”

The firm also said: “In recent years, AstraZeneca has made a number of strategic changes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its supply chain and outsource some manufacturing activity, particularly the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Much of AstraZeneca's outsourcing focus – at least for active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production – has been on Asia. In 2007, for example it told our sister publication Outsaourcing-pharma.com that China would be a key source for it in the future.

R&D cuts

The cuts will also impact AstraZeneca’s R&D arm with – according to the firm – as many as 2,200 jobs likely to be eliminated from its global drug development division.

These are in addition to the R&D restructuring move AstraZeneca unveiled in January 2010.

Under the new programme announced today, further changes will create a simpler and more innovative R&D organization with a lower and more flexible cost base. Excess capacity in certain R&D functions will be reduced, matching resources to AstraZeneca’s more focused R&D portfolio.”

Again the firm did not detail the specific cuts, but did say that part of the reorganisation will involve the establishment of a “virtual neuroscience team made up of a small team of around 40 to 50 AstraZeneca scientists conducting discovery and development externally, through a network of some of the most innovative partners in academia and industry globally.”

The new model will result in a ‘significant reduction’ in employee numbers at sites Sodertalje in Sweden – which will continue as a manufacturing unit for AstarZeneca - and Montreal in Canada, which will close.

Whether AstraZeneca will increase its use of outsourced research – as it said it would after announcing the last round of R&D cuts – is unclear, although the reference to ‘partners in industry’ suggests it is a possibility.

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