Astrazeneca Chops 1,600 Jobs

Astrazeneca Chops 1,600 Jobs

March 18th, 2013 // 2:58 pm @

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In the latest effort to jumpstart its flagging business, AstraZeneca is consolidating R&D and global marketing operations over the next two years, a move that will eventually elminate 1,600 jobs by 2016, including 650 positions in the US. As part of the plan, the drugmaker is creating three global R&D centers and shifting some marketing functions, and will take a $1.4 billion restructuring charge, but hope to save $190 million annually.

This is the second big overhaul at AstraZeneca this year. Two months ago, the drugmaker announced that Tony Zook, who had been executive vp for global commercial activities, was leaving. And as part of the shake up, AstraZeneca began creating several new R&D and commercial positions, including a new executive job that will be responsible for global portfolio and product strategy, in hopes of “bridging” R&D and sales (back story).

This is also the second large reorganization to eliminate a significant number of jobs. Early last year, AztraZeneca disclosed plans to cut some 7,300 positions from across all of its operations and save $1.6 billion annually as the drugmaker tried to cope with patent expirations on big sellers and disappointments in the lab (see here).

Here are the newest planned changes: Cambridge, England, will become the new world headquarters and AstraZeneca will invest around $500 million to build a new facility and consolidate UK-based small molecule and biologics R&D. Most corporate and global commercial jobs based in London are expected to move to there. An office in Paddington will close and about 1,600 jobs will shift from Alderley Park, Cheshire. Also, a facility in Molndal, Sweden, will be one of the three global R&D centers, but focus primarily on small molecules.

Meanwhile, the facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which is the site of MedImmune headquarters and the primary location for biologics work, will become home to much of the work conducted by the Global Medicines Development unit for both small and large molecules, but also become home to some global marketing and US specialty care commercial functions. About 300 jobs will be added, 170 employees relocated and about 1,200 jobs will leave Wilmington, which will house about 2,000 workers when the moves are completed.

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“This is a major investment in the future of this company that will enable us to accelerate innovation by improving collaboration, reducing complexity and speeding up decision-making. The strategic centres will also allow us to tap into important bioscience hotspots providing more of our people with easy access to leading-edge academic and industry networks, scientific talent and valuable partnering opportunities,” AstraZeneca ceo Pascal Soriot says in a statement.

As we note two months, AstraZeneca (AZN) has needed some big changes. Before Soirot left Roche to head the drugmaker, AstraZeneca languished under his predecessor, Dave Brennan, and was relying on a variety of licensing deals, partnerships and acquisitions to replenish its pipeline. There was also the failure of the $15 billion acquisition of MedImmune six years ago to yield any results.

H/T: Pharmalot

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