In anticipaton of a tough year to come, and despite turning in a respectable 23% increase in pretax profits for 2009, AstraZeneca, the UK-Swedish pharma giant, announced on the first week of March that it will layoff about 900 workers and abandon its research operations in Lund. Complete shuttering of the facility will be completed by later this year, according to AstraZeneca's statements.
Startled by the total closure of the Lund facility, local leaders from government and the academic world immediately promised to launch programs to absorb the superfluous surplus of highly skilled research talent. Formerly a Swedish pharma firm founded in Södertälje in 1913, Astra merged with the UK's Zeneca Group in 1999 to form AstraZeneca, and its Lund R&D site near the Ideon Science Park and Lund University has represented one of the foremost such R&D operations in central Scandinavia.
On a worldwide basis, by 2014, the company said its package of global cutbacks would eliminate over 10,000 jobs in addition to 12,600 it has previously trimmed. This new figure covers some 8,000 in newly announced trimmings and 2,400 previously announced. The research cuts will cost the company $1 billion, with total restructuring charges in nearly all company areas expected to be $2 billion.
In its press statement, AstraZeneca said their cutbacks totaled 3,500 R&D layoffs, but transfers and relocations slimmed the research cut to around 1,800 positions around the world.
Some of AstraZeneca's current research in Lund - on respiratory and inflammatory diseases – will transfer to Mölndal in western Sweden. Company officials left ominous uncertainties regarding how this move or other cutbacks would effect Astra Tech, their 2,200 employees-strong subsidiary that is already established in Mölndal. Astra Tech makes dental implants and medical devices for urology and surgery.