GlaxoSmithKline may follow AstraZeneca in axing jobs: report

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the UK's biggest pharmaceutical company is likely to follow its fellow rival AstraZeneca in announcing thousands of jobs cuts along with its annual results this week.

GSK is expected to wield the axe on about 4,000 jobs from its US and European operations and focus on emerging markets in Asia, where it is will hire additional workforce to bolster its sales, according to a Sunday Times report yesterday.

London-based GSK, formed through the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham in 2000 to emerge  the world's second largest pharmaceutical and research-based company that employs 99,000 worldwide, will be cutting jobs even as analysts expect the company to report pre-tax profits of a nearly £9 billion on revenue of £28 billion.

For the 2008 financial year, GSK reported an operating income of £8.259 billion on revenue of £24.352 billion.

Last week, reporting a $10.8 billion in annual pre-tax profits, AstraZeneca cut 8,000 jobs to cut on costs as it expects competition from generic drug makers to a few of its leading drugs whose exclusive patent are soon to expire. (See: AstraZeneca reports profit, cuts 8,000 jobs to cut costs)

GSK also faces competition from generic drug makers for its Valtrex drug used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses, whose US patent expired last month.