Drugmaker AstraZeneca to Cut 8,000 Jobs Worldwide

However company reported a 24% increase in profits from last year

Extending a cost-cutting drive despite soaring profits, AstraZeneca plans to axe 8,000 more jobs worldwide by 2014. The company hopes to deliver annual cost savings of $1.9 billion over the next four years.

The news came as AstraZeneca announced that net profits soared by almost one quarter in 2009 and after it had slashed 12,600 posts since 2007. Net profits jumped 24% to $7.52 billion last year, boosted by rising sales of cholesterol pill Crestor and government orders for its swine flu vaccines and treatments.

Revenues grew 4% to $32.8 billion in 2009 -- but were forecast to decline this year by a "mid to single digit" drop.

The latest job cuts will affect the group's sales and marketing division, as well as its business infrastructure and research and development units. A company spokesman said that the restructuring was "not just about cost reduction" and said the group hoped to create jobs elsewhere.

The firm predicts a tough 2010 because a number of its key drugs patents are due to expire. "Let's be clear -- 2010 is going to be a challenging year," said Chief Executive David Brennan.

AstraZeneca, Britain's second biggest drugmaker by sales after market leader GlaxoSmithKline, has operations stretching across more than 100 countries around the globe.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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