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AstraZeneca to lay off 400 in Delaware

Struggling pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced plans to lay off 400 employees at its main office in Wilmington, Delaware.

In a press release, the company said this move would help “streamline portions of its U.S. commercial business as part of the company's strategy to operate its business more effectively and efficiently to best serve patients in the United States.”

About 70 of the estimated 400 cuts will come from existing vacancies. In addition, employees will have the option to self-identify to potentially leave the company. All decisions will be finalized by early December.

"This will be very difficult for our entire organization, particularly the people who are directly impacted," said Rich Fante, president, AstraZeneca U.S. & CEO, North America, in the release. "However, these changes are necessary to build a leaner, more efficient organization that will enable the company to continue delivering against our mission of patient health and sustaining a strong business for years to come."

This move is the latest in a series of layoffs from AstraZeneca. Industry analysts expect the company to reduce its workforce by 15,000 between 2007 and 2013, and to continue to struggle with its on-patent drug development.

In a January 2009 article published in the Times of London, Peter Stiff included this ING assessment of AstraZeneca:

“ING believes Astra will be the single worst-affected company over the coming years and is forecasting a 40 percent decline in earnings between 2009 and 2013. It said the group’s early-stage pipeline of products is unlikely to be profitable, even if successful, before 2015, and that cuts in infrastructure and research and development may be necessary, which in turn could force the company to license promising R&D candidates to other groups.”

About the current layoffs, AstraZeneca said in a press release, "The changes will enable the company to compete in a challenging environment, including pricing pressures and the continuing growth of generics medicines."

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