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Eli Lilly wields axe over 5,500

Eli Lilly, the US-based drugmaker, has sparked fears hundreds of UK jobs could be lost after it unveiled plans to cut 5,500 staff worldwide in a bid to slash its costs. The cuts, equivalent to 13.5 per cent of the firm’s workforce of 40,500, are likely to affect its 1,600 UK staff. The group said the cuts come as part of a giant cost-cutting exercise worth $1bn (£603m) by the end of 2011. Lilly, which reached a peak employee count of 46,000 in mid-2004, has cut jobs in recent years, but not with the ferocity of some rival drugmakers.