- AstraZeneca closed out what has been a heavy week of layoffs throughout the pharmaceutical industry, disclosing Thursday the elimination of 700 positions across its U.S. business.
- Approximately 620 employees working in the field and out of the company's North American headquarters — located in Wilmington, DE — will lose their jobs, while another 80 vacant positions will be cut.
- Of the 620 layoffs, about 120 are from the Wilmington headquarters, with the rest coming from sales and non-sales roles outside that office, the company said in an emailed statement.
AstraZeneca has been working to curb costs and reshape itself for some time. Earlier this fall, the company sold off rights to a number of drugs, and CEO Pascal Soriot has said he expects restructuring efforts to save $1.1 billion annually by 2017.
A decent portion of those efforts has involved job cuts. In 2013, AstraZeneca announced plans to cut 5,000 positions between then and the end of 2015. This year, the company stopped contracting sales representatives from life science marketing organization Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, which reportedly affected 1,600 jobs.
"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 Dec. 8 statement. "We will continue our commitment to treat all of our employees with respect and minimize disruption."
AstraZeneca said in the statement that the job cuts will help it whittle down core selling, general and administrative expenses — a goal the company has had since the beginning of the year. According to its last annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, cost reduction measures helped to reduce those expenses by 2% to $9.27 billion in 2015.
It has been a bad week for pharmaceutical jobs in general.
Endo International, for instance, announced on Thursday it cut 375 positions from its sales force. The company is also working to restructuring amid falling generics prices, and anticipated the decision would save up to $162 million next year.
Meanwhile, Mylan said in a Dec. 5 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that as much as 10% of its workforce (or about 3,500 employees) could feel the effects of a "streamlining" of operations that some are interpreting as potential job cuts.