Drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC will cut roughly 24 percent of its U.S. sales force in an effort to curb costs, part of a company-wide restructuring announced in 2010.
The British company said that it will cut 1,150 employees, including sales representatives and managers. It employs 14,000 people in North America, with most of those working in the United States. These latest announced layoffs are in addition to 400 cuts in AstraZeneca’s U.S. commercial business laid out in October.
“These changes are driven by the need to effectively compete in a challenging environment,” said spokesman Tony Jewell.
The maker of the cholesterol fighter Crestor and the antipsychotic Seroquel in January 2010 said it would cut 10,400 jobs worldwide through 2014. That plan would cost AstraZeneca about $2 billion but generate annual savings of about $1.9 billion. That restructuring was an extension of a cost-cutting program launched in 2007, which had saved the company $1.6 billion annually by the end of 2009.
Several key products, including as child asthma medication Pulmicort and breast cancer treatment Arimidex, lost patent protection in 2010. And two generic versions of Lipitor, a heart drug rival to Crestor, hit the U.S. market this month. Lipitor is made by Pfizer Inc.
AstraZeneca is expected to get generic competition in the U.S. to its top three drugs – Crestor, Seroquel and heartburn treatment Nexium – by 2016.
AstraZeneca said Wednesday that employees will be given a chance to leave voluntarily with a severance package, and it will finalize the cuts by February.
AstraZeneca will take a charge ranging between $50 million and $100 million in the fourth quarter related to the most recent cuts.
Date: December 7, 2011
Source: Associated Press