Last year, AstraZeneca announced the elimination of some 15,000 jobs. Last Thursday, the London-based company revealed that it plans to lay off another 8,000 by 2014—this despite global revenue growth of 4 percent for 2009.
Much of the drive for this addition labor sculpting stems from AZ’s desire to streamline its R&D; the company will focus on fewer disease targets and expects to cut up to 3,500 jobs in that sector, which currently employs about 12,000.
But it’s not all bad news. Some jobs might survive via relocation, and because the company wants to expand its work in biologics, the net loss could end up in the 1,800 range. This should save AZ at least $1 billion a year, money they need for pipeline projects close to launch, such as the highly anticipated motavisumab, which aims to prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AstraZeneca’s pipeline contains over 100 projects, about 30 percent of which were acquired by licensing, according to CEO David Brennan.
The company has not disclosed which disease areas it will leave behind during this streamlining process, but it’s unlikely they’ll drop ones diabetes (with seven compounds in the works and a rapidly growing patient population) or cancer.
According to the Times of London, GlaxoSmithKline is also expected to have unpleasant news for employees during Thursday’s release of its 4Q figures: They’ll be cutting 4,000 jobs, mostly in Europe and America. A similar bloodletting took place last February, when an estimated 6,000 got the axe. This is all part of Glaxo’s plan to save $2.7 billion by 2011.