GlaxoSmithKline is remaining tight-lipped following reports over the weekend that the drugs giant is planning to shed up to 4,000 jobs.

GSK has not responded yet to a query about whether the rumours of the cuts are well-founded and will indeed be unveiled at the company’s annual results presentation on Thursday. Reports have claimed that most of the job losses will take place at its research operations in the USA and Europe, as GSK, which employs 99,000 people worldwide, increases its focus on the emerging markets.

Any announcement of cuts would come a week after AstraZeneca said it would be slashing a further 8,000 jobs in the next four years, A reduction would come as no great surprise as GSK, as well as pretty much every pharma firm, is looking hard at improving cost efficiencies.

Meantime, GSK has confirmed that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Tykerb (lapatinib) in combination with Novartis’ Femara (letrozole) as a first-line treatment for patients with breast cancer.

Specifically, the GSK pill is now indicated in combination with Femara for the treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor positive metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses the HER2 receptor for whom hormonal therapy is indicated. The approval is based on a 219-patient study which showed that women treated with lapatinib and letrozole experienced a 5.2 month increase in median progression-free survival compared to those on Femara alone.

Tykerb is already approved in the USA in combination with Roche’s Xeloda (capecitabine) as a treatment for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer in women who have received prior therapy including an anthracycline, a taxane and the Swiss major’s blockbuster Herceptin (trastuzumab).