Pharma giant AstraZeneca to axe 1,600 jobs

ASTRAZENECA yesterday announced plans to cut around 1,600 jobs as it overhauls research operations and consolidates drug development work in three major centres in the UK, the US and Sweden.

The move will see the end of drug development at AstraZeneca’s Alderley Park facility – within the Cheshire constituency of chancellor George Osborne – for many years a hub of the group’s research and development (R&D) efforts, the drug maker said.

New chief executive Pascal Soriot, who will present his detailed strategy plans for the group to investors on 21 March, said the programme would lead to $1.4bn (£927m) in one-time restructuring charges. Annualised benefits of the overhaul are expected to reach approximately $190m by 2016.

Soriot said 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.

Soriot’s R&D plans include a $500m investment in a new, purpose-built facility in Cambridge where AstraZeneca aims to tap into an environment of world-class academic and clinical life sciences research.

He also plans to move the company’s global corporate headquarters to Cambridge from London by 2016.

AstraZeneca shares ended the day down 0.7 per cent.