AstraZeneca to Axe 7,000 More Jobs

Company says jobs cuts are not a reaction to the recession but a way to cut costs to become more competitive

Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said on Jan. 29 it will axe 7,000 more jobs by 2013, extending a cost-cutting program that has already shed about 8,000 positions since 2007.

"New initiatives include further rationalization of the global supply chain, additional restructuring of the sales and marketing organization and business infrastructure," AstraZeneca said.

A company spokeswoman said that 8,000 positions were no longer in existence since the company announced its program in 2007. "Alongside the restructuring program we are still recruiting people," she stressed.

Chief executive David Brennan said the job cuts were "not a reaction to the recession" but admitted it was not immune to the global downturn. Many pharmaceutical companies are looking to cut costs as they face more competition from generic drugmakers.

The program will reap cost savings of $2.5 billion per year following its full implementation, compared with the previous annual forecast of $1.4 billion.

AstraZeneca said that it expected to be saving $2.1 billion before the end of 2010, with the rest of the savings achieved by 2013.

The group also announced that its 2008 annual net profits rose nine percent to $6.10 billion on strength in emerging markets, while revenues grew 6.9% to $31.60 billion. However, net profit sank by 1.4% to $1.248 billion in the final quarter of 2008, compared with the same period of 2007.

AstraZeneca is the latest drugs giant to unveil job losses after similar announcements last year by British rival GlaxoSmithKline, German pharmaceutical and chemical group Merck and U.S. group Schering-Plough.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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