AstraZeneca cuts 1,600 jobs in global R&D cull

pascal soriot, AZ (web) AstraZencca (AZ) is to cut 1,600 jobs in a global restructuring of its R&D operation, including 700 UK jobs and 650 in the US.

In the UK, AZ will shut down its R&D operations at Alderley Edge and relocate over 1,000 jobs to a new global HQ in Cambridge.

In the US, it will shift its Global Medicines Development Group from Delaware to Maryland.

The restructuring, which will take three years to complete, will concentrate the company’s R&D operations in three key global centres.

It follows a quarter in which global sales fell by 16% due to patent expiry – and while AZ continues to see R&D as a vital function it is keen to reduce costs.

AZ’s long-term growth has resulted in a structure that Mene Pangalos, Executive VP for Innovative Medicines, described as “too spread out and too diffuse”.

Research work at the Alderley Park site, which Zeneca took over in 1993 as a divestment from ICI, will cease. Some 700 non-R&D roles will remain at the site, while 1,600 R&D roles will be relocated and 550 will be cut.

This decision contrasts with the prospect in October 2012, when AZ secured a £5m grant from the Regional Growth Fund to develop a bioscience park at Alderley Park and Martin Mackay, AZ’s President of R&D, claimed: “Alderley Park is a site of critical importance to our global R&D organisation.”

The current decision to focus R&D in Cambridge reflects the growing importance of biotech clusters for global pharma.

Pascal Soriot (pictured), CEO of AZ, commented: “Cambridge, which boasts strong links with London-based research institutions, is a world-renowned bioscience hotspot that rivals the likes of San Francisco and Boston.

“I believe the investment greatly increases the chances that the next generation of innovative medicines will be invented and manufactured in Britain.”