Deep cuts at AstraZeneca, Sepracor

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The cuts keep coming. AstraZeneca will make another 6,000 job cuts for a total of 15,000, or 23% of its global workforce of 65,000, by 2013, and Sepracor is slashing its sales force.

About half of the 15,000 AstraZeneca positions eliminated will come from sales, general and administrative functions, the company said, with another 41% coming from global supply chain operations and another 10% from R&D. All but 2,300 of those positions slated for elimination has been determined.

In November, AstraZeneca announced 1,400 job cuts as part of a realignment of its global manufacturing and supply chain operations. Those cuts were in addition to the 7,600 eliminations the company announced following its acquisition of MedImmune in 2007 – 1,800 of which came from a realignment of European sales forces. The company anticipates $2.5 billion in annual benefits from the reductions at a cost of $2.9 billion.

AstraZeneca reported fourth-quarter sales up 4%, but the gains were a wash, thanks to the negative impact of exchange rate movements. Full-year sales were up 3% worldwide. Sales in the US were up 3% for the fourth quarter and just 1% for the full year, as the impact of generic competition for Toprol-XL sank in.

Meanwhile, Sepracor announced that it would cut about 530 jobs, or 20% of its workforce, including 180 corporate positions and about 350 field-based positions, along with 410 contract sales reps. After restructuring, the company's sales force will total roughly 1,325 reps. The sales force cuts come with the roll out of a new commercial model featuring “geographically tailored field teams that have a regional profitability focus and sole territory product ownership,” and are expected to produce a reduction in operating expenses of about $210 million.

Also, Abbott is eliminating about 200 jobs – mostly sales and sales management, along with some marketing posts – after failing to gain approval for its 12-hour Vicodin CR formulation.

On Monday, Pfizer said it would cut between 18,000 and 19,000 jobs as part of its $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth.

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