Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

AstraZeneca axes jobs and plants

Macclesfield plant
Some job losses are expected at AstraZeneca's UK operations

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said it will cut 1,400 jobs by 2013 and close three European factories in a cost-cutting effort.

The company will shut down plants in Spain, Belgium and Sweden, with some job losses also expected in the UK.

AstraZeneca said it won a court order blocking the sale of a generic version of asthma drug Pulmicort by rival Teva.

On Wednesday the firm issued a profit warning saying the generic drug was affecting its profits.

"I realise these changes are difficult for our affected employees, with whom we will be consulting in the coming months", said AstraZeneca's executive vice-president of operations David Smith.

He justified the closures saying that the introduction of new manufacturing processes allows improved efficiency in its global supply chain.

AstraZeneca said it would continue investing in its Chinese plant at Wuxi to support the company's growth in the Asia Pacific region.

The lack of new drugs and fierce competition have prompted drug companies to axe thousands of jobs in the past few years.

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