US drugmaker Abbott has unveiled plans to shed hundreds of jobs from its research and sales teams, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

This is the latest in a spate of job cuts announced by big pharmas over the last year, in a drive to cut costs and increase the efficiency of their operations. Earlier this year, the world’s biggest drug group Pfizer reported plans to cut its global force by 10%, while Bayer is also shedding jobs as it integrates Schering AG into its business.

According to media reports, around 200 positions will be shed from Abbott’s research operations, following a reshuffle of its drug discovery segment and its recent acquisition of Kos, and salesforce reductions could run into several hundreds.

Humira cleared for Crohn’s

Meantime, US regulators have given the all clear for the use of Abbott’s Humira (adalimumab) for moderately-to-severely active Crohn's disease in patients who have had failed to respond or are intolerant to standard therapy, or infliximab - the only other biologic cleared to treat the condition.

Humira is the only fully human monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritic, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis in the USA and Europe, and "the approval in Crohn's disease extends [its] reach to an underserved patient population in gastroenterology," said Eugene Sun, vice president, Global Pharmaceutical Clinical Development, at Abbott. "In addition to rapid and sustained response, Humira offers patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease the convenience of self-injection in the comfort of their home," he added.