AstraZeneca announces 2,200 R&D job cuts worldwide
2 February 2012
AstraZeneca has announced a set of new restructuring
initiatives along with its full-year 2011 results today. The programme
is expected to lead to 7,300 job losses in total, with 2,200 of those
The present restructuring initiative, which started in 2007, is
aimed at saving $1.6bn annually by end of 2014 at a cost of $2.1bn.
David Brennan, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca said:
“AstraZeneca remains fully committed to our long-term, focused,
innovation-driven biopharmaceutical strategy. Since 2007, when we
announced our first major restructuring programme, we have taken
decisive steps to improve returns on investment, recognising that
this demands concerted, enterprise-wide action.
Today’s initiatives should be seen in this strategic context as
we continue to reshape our business to improve productivity and
innovation and with it our long-term ability to compete in a rapidly
changing healthcare environment. “We are acutely aware that these
decisions will affect many employees and we will strive to support
our people as we implement these changes.”
The R&D function will accelerate its transformation, which the
company unveiled in January 2010. The company closed a research
facility at Charnwood near Loughborough last year, although some
good news came out of that when some of those staff set up new
biotechnology companies at BioCity Nottingham.
The company says the new programme announced today 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
A focus for much of the change in R&D is the neuroscience therapy
area. While the patient need for better medicines in neuroscience is
huge and the science is promising, advances in treatments have
proved elusive for the pharmaceutical industry in recent years,
despite significant investment. AstraZeneca believes that it will
have the best chance of success in future by combining the company’s
internal expertise with innovative external science.
As a result, AstraZeneca says it will create a new “virtual”
neuroscience Innovative Medicines unit (iMed) 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 team will
be based in major neuroscience hubs — Boston (US) and Cambridge (UK)
— and work closely with innovative partners such as the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm (Sweden).
Martin Mackay, President of Research and Development,
AstraZeneca, said: “We’ve made an active choice to stay in
neuroscience though we will work very differently to share cost,
risk and reward with partners in this especially challenging but
important field of medical research. The creation of a virtual
neuroscience iMed will make us more agile scientifically and
financially – we will be able to collaborate flexibly with the best
scientific expertise, wherever it exists in the world.”
The implementation of this new model will lead to a significant
reduction in employee numbers and the end of R&D activity at two
sites that are focused on neuroscience: Södertälje in Sweden and
Montreal in Canada. As the location of the company’s largest
manufacturing site, and the base of the commercial business covering
the Scandinavian markets, Södertälje remains an important part of
the AstraZeneca network. The company’s Montreal facility will close.
AstraZeneca says it will continue to invest in R&D in the
following therapy areas: cardiovascular, gastrointestinal,
infection, oncology, neuroscience and respiratory & inflammation.
In the Selling, General and Administrative (SG&A) areas there
will be about 3,750 job losses, due to "simplification of the
company's global commercial organisation structure". New customer
channels, which include digital technology and the use of call
centres for sales and medical advice, have been successfully
established in many developed markets and are now being deployed
around the world.
The new programme will drive further efficiency in the supply
chain, with a particular focus on support functions in Operations,
with job losses of about 1,350.