AstraZeneca has said it plans to shed 2,300 sales and administration jobs, just days after cutting back its R&D workforce by 1,600.
Europe will bear the brunt of the latest round of cuts, said AZ's new chef executive Pascal Soriot as he outlined the findings of his six-month strategic review of the company to investors in New York yesterday.
All told, AZ will reduce its headcount by more than 5,000 people by 2016 - roughly 10% of its total workforce - which should allow it to cut costs by $800 million a year in return for $2.3 billion in charges.
In addition to the cutbacks, Soriot said AZ would use it cash reserves on alliances and M&A - looking for companies that can help it bolster its R&D pipeline as well as its commercial product portfolio - and licensing deals.
In that sense it was business as usual for the drugmaker, with Soriot emphasising his commitment to maintaining AZ as a "focused", research-led biopharmaceutical company in respiratory medicine, inflammation and autoimmunity, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and cancer.
"We see no case for diversification," he said, noting that AZ's mid-stage projects have the potential to double the size of its Phase III pipeline by 2016, and made a commitment to reinvest "up to 50%" of after-tax cash flow in R&D.
AZ will also have to make better use of products already on the market, and Soriot spent some time at the investor event explaining how important it is that the firm's underperforming blood-thinner Brilinta/Brilique (ticagrelor) fulfils its "multibillion dollar potential."
He also emphasised the importance of AZ's diabetes alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as ensuring it expands in emerging markets and Japan.
Soriot was wary of providing any near-term financial forecasts at the meeting, but said AZ would beat consensus sales expectations of $21.5 billion in 2018, by which time the company's current difficulties with pipeline failures and patent expirations on big-selling drugs will have waned.
In recent years AZ had fallen into the trap of becoming a little too "risk averse", said the CEO, which slowed down decision-making, while financial considerations supplanted scientific endeavour as the driving force for management.