FRANKFURT — AstraZeneca plans to cut 2,300 sales and administrative jobs and narrow its drug research focus in a bid to return to growth as patents on its best-selling medicines expire.
AstraZeneca will concentrate on respiratory, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses, and cancer, the drug maker said Thursday before briefing investors on new chief executive Pascal Soriot’s strategy for the London company. It also plans to double the number of experimental treatments in late-stage development by 2016.
The job cuts are in addition to 1,600 research positions that the company, Britain’s second-biggest drug maker, said on Monday that it would eliminate. Including a February 2012 plan to cut 1,150 posts, AstraZeneca has announced the elimination of 5,050 jobs in 13 months. The company is trying to recover from setbacks in developing treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and depression.
The three sets of job cuts will lead to $2.3 billion in one-time charges, of which $1.7 billion will be cash expenses, the company said. Benefits of about $800 million a year are expected by 2016. AstraZeneca employed about 51,700 people on Dec. 31.
Analysts have speculated that Soriot, who joined the company in October, will need to make a big acquisition to jump-start growth. Soriot said this week that AstraZeneca plans to return to growth through its own research and smaller acquisitions, though he would not rule out larger deals.
AstraZeneca reached an agreement with Moderna Therapeutics to develop cardiovascular, metabolic, and cancer drugs using Moderna’s messenger RNA technology for an upfront payment of $240 million, it said separately on Thursday. AstraZeneca also signed a deal with Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet to study cardiovascular, metabolic, and regenerative medicine in Stockholm.
A management shakeup in January led to the departure of AstraZeneca’s head of research and development and its most senior executive for worldwide sales and marketing activities.
Soriot replaced David Brennan, who retired in June after setbacks in coming out with new medicines.