AstraZeneca axes another 7,300 jobs

AstraZenecaPharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca has said it will axe 7,300 jobs by the end of 2014 as part of a fresh round of cost savings.

The company, which has 61,000 staff globally of whom 8,000 are in the UK, axed 12,600 positions between 2007 and 2009 and removed another 9,000 roles by the end of last year.

The company, which closed a site at Charnwood, near Loughborough, at the end of last year, said the latest restructuring was needed because of the weak economy and the impact of competition from generic drugs.

Its sites in the UK are at Alderley Park in Cheshire, Macclesfield, Cambridge, Luton, Avlon near Bristol, Paddington in London, and Brixham in Devon. The company has not yet disclosed where the jobs will go.

Union representatives, who are seeking further details from the company, warned that it is another blow for the UK economy after rival firm Pfizer announced plans to pull out of Sandwich in Kent.

Allan Black, GMB national officer for pharmaceuticals, said: "These cutting-edge research and development jobs are both well- paid and essential for a thriving UK economy. As a nation we do need to find a viable way to continue to make breakthroughs in bringing to safe use much-needed new medicines."

The jobs blow came as the company announced a 2% fall in revenues to 33.3 billion US dollars (£21.1 billion) in 2011, while profits fell 4% to 13.2 billion US dollars (£8.4 billion). It said generic competition as patents expire and intervention in pricing from central governments wiped three billion US dollars (£1.9 billion) from its revenues.

The company said revenues for 2012 are likely to be down by more than 10% while its margins will also be squeezed, leading to lower profits.

The Anglo-Swedish company has suffered a number of setbacks in its efforts to secure approval for new blockbuster drugs, and warned that the coming years would be "challenging for the industry and for the company".

Despite the fresh cost-cutting measures, the Cheshire-based company announced a 10% hike in its dividend and plans to return an additional 4.5 billion US dollars (£2.9 billion) to shareholders in 2012 on top of the 9.4 billion US dollars (£6 billion) last year.

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