How Will AstraZeneca Fare With These Losses?

Britain’s second-largest pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), will face its second large shake-up in two months, with the exit of two top officials from the company.

Shake-up 1

AstraZeneca faced the first shake-up in early December last year when the European Union’s highest court upheld a 52.5-million-euro fine for breaking antitrust laws. The drugmaker was first charged with artificially inflating the price of their popular ulcer drug, Losec, and later found guilty of misleading patent agencies for years in order to bar cheaper and generic competitors.

Shake-up 2

Later this month, AstraZeneca will see off Martin Mackay, president of research and development, and Tony Zook, executive vice president of global commercial operations. Their roles were eliminated as part of a strategic review lead by the new chief executive, Pascal Soriot, who took the position in October after former CEO David Brennan retired in June…

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AstraZeneca’s immediate future

To replace the eliminated positions, the drugmaker will create 3 senior R&D roles: 2 roles in discovery and early-stage development of small molecules and of biologics, and 1 role in late-stage development. In a statement, Soriot said the new team structure would allow AstraZeneca to “bring an even sharper management focus to key pipeline assets, key brands and key markets, and helps us further accelerate decision-making,”

At the moment, AstraZeneca is in a precarious position, as it will soon be operating with its new senior executive team structure while also facing the impending loss of patent protection of drugs that account for more than 40 percent of the company’s sales — its second-best-drug already lost patent protection last March. The company also announced last year that it will be cutting 2,200 jobs in R&D as part of its 7,300 job cuts worldwide.

Though Soriot sounds hopeful for the future of AstraZeneca with the new executive team structure, the current outlook doesn’t look so great, as the company will have to work hard to make up for the patent protection it will be losing and will likely have a harder time doing that with reduced R&D manpower. AstraZeneca is expected to release fourth-quarter results at the end of the month that could help shed light on the position the company is currently in.

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