Speculation is rife that AstraZeneca will announce hefty job losses when the drugs giant posts its annual results on Thursday.
Analysts have estimated that up to 3,000 posts could be axed across the group, which employs about 7,000 staff at two sites in Cheshire and a total of 11,000 in the UK.
Two years ago, Astra said more than 10,000 roles would be lost globally by 2014 and reports suggest the figure could be extended.
A spokeswoman for Astra said the firm would not comment on speculation.
The UK’s second-biggest medicine maker is forecast to report flat revenues for 2011 of 33.5 billion US dollars (£21.3bn) and a 15 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to 12.65 billion US dollars (£8.1bn).
It is also reportedly mulling a £2bn extension to its share buy-back programme, although it could hold back some cash for acquisitions.
Astra, led by chief executive David Brennan, has suffered setbacks over the past year in its efforts to produce new blockbuster treatments.
The company previously warned its profits would be at the low end of market expectations after an ovarian cancer drug called olaparib was held back for further development when tests revealed it was unlikely to prove effective.
Elsewhere, the results of tests on drugs for patients with major depressive disorders were disappointing although research is still ongoing.
The pharmaceuticals industry is facing a challenging period as it looks for new products and faces the loss of exclusivity on existing drugs.
AstraZeneca took impairment charges of around 381.5 million US dollars (£246m) in the final quarter of 2011 as a number of its potential new drugs fell through.
Shares are six per cent lower than their 2011 peak in May, amid fears that Astra has relatively few new drugs to replace its existing stable such as Nexium for heartburn and schizophrenia drug Seroquel, but have climbed back 20 per cent from their year-low in August.
Astra has in recent years been hampered by problems with its newest medicines after it discontinued its motavizumab drug, used to prevent serious lung disease, leading to a 445 million US dollar (£287.2m) accounting charge.
It also suffered delays in winning approval from US regulators for its heart medicine Brilinta. The US Food and Drug Administration requested further analysis into the blood-thinning pill before clearing the drug for sale.
Monday, January 30, 2012
‘Axe hovers over AstraZeneca jobs’ | Manchester Evening News