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January 31, 2010    

GSK to axe 4,000 jobs as it shifts focus

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by Kay Murchie

As part of a major restructure, Britain’s largest drugs company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to slash 4,000 positions, according to The Sunday Times.

According to press reports, the job losses are part of plans to shift its focus to emerging markets, such as China which has greater potential to increase sales growth.

The company has a global workforce of 99,000 and the bulk of the job cuts are expected to be in the European and US workforce.

However, a spokesperson for GSK has declined to comment on the report of planned job cuts.

The news comes just a few days after the UK’s second-largest drug maker, AstraZeneca, announced plans to axe a further 8,000 jobs across its global operations over the next four years.

The reduction in AstraZeneca’s headcount is in addition to the 12,600 worldwide positions that have already been shed as part of the group’s massive cost-cutting programme.

Returning to GSK, the company is expected to reveal plans for select cost-cutting
together with its annual results due later this week.

Analysts are expecting the group to post a 12% rise in profits to £8.69 billion, with sales of £28.23 billion.

Meanwhile, it is looking to make £1.7 billion in annual cost savings by the end of 2011 and make its research and development arm more cost-efficient.

The pharmaceuticals industry has been suffering of late with falling sales as many drugs are losing their patent protection.

However, GSK appears to be in better shape than its rivals as the supply of new drugs is looking healthy.

The group has over 30 products in the advanced stages of testing, while new drugs planned include Menhibrix, a new meningitis vaccine, and Benlysta, a treatment for lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease.

GSK, which has research bases at Stevenage and Ware in Hertfordshire and Harlow in Essex, was created a decade ago from the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham.

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Tags: AstraZeneca, , cost-cutting, drugs, emerging markets, , GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, , patent, pharmaceuticals industry, , , shift, Sunday Times