The prospect of a downturn in US revenues next year, had prompted AstraZeneca (AZ) to eliminate 700 positions, saying it was a difficult but necessary decision.
The drugmaker would crimp jobs throughout its US commercial organisation and North American headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The cuts would also include some field and non-field sales positions.
''While these decisions are in the best interest of our future, this is a difficult time for our entire US organization, particularly for the people who are directly impacted,'' the company said in a statement yesterday. According to a spokesperson, the cuts were specific to the US commercial business.
London-based AstraZeneca has been hit hard by competition from generics for two of its once-top sellers, stomach medicine Nexium and statin drug Crestor.
The latest job cuts come only days after AstraZeneca said it would move some UK finance jobs to Malaysia, Costa Rica and Poland, in a bid to consolidate back-office work in those three locations. Those moves also formed part of the company's $1.1 billion cost-cutting effort first announced earlier this year.
''We will continue our commitment to treat all of our employees with respect and minimize disruption,'' AZ's statement said.
The cuts come amid a dismal week for pharma jobs, with several of AZ's peers announcing cutbacks. Mylan announced the biggest round, saying it would cut ''less than 10%'' of its global workforce of more than 35,000 employees. Endo had announced layoffs of 375 sales employees, and up to 80 staffers would go at Perrigo.
Meanwhile, around 120 AstraZeneca employees in Wilmington were out of work as the company said yesterday, the layoffs were part of its ''return to growth strategy'' to streamline and drive greater efficiency.
''We continue to face loss of exclusivity impacts from many of our legacy products and work to compete in an ever-changing external environment,'' the company said in a statement. ''By diligently prioritizing, we will continue to successfully launch and commercialize new medicines, meet the needs of our customers and patients, and ultimately help AstraZeneca return to growth.''