Ahead of posting its full-year financials on Thursday, there is much speculation that AstraZeneca is set to announce further jobs cuts and an extension of its share buyback programme.

The rumours took hold following reports in the Sunday Times that up to 3,000 jobs could be axed. The newspaper cited unnamed analysts and the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is not commenting on speculation.

However, if true, the job losses would come on top of the lay-offs announced by AstraZeneca over the last few years. The latest move saw the firm say, in December, that it is reducing its US field force by 1,150, having already announced the loss of 400 sales jobs two months before that.

The company is also reportedly looking at a $3 billion extension to its share buy-back programme. That particular rumour has gone down well with investors as has the news of more jobs being lost, a move that would obviously cut costs at a time when AstraZeneca is planning for life after the patent expiries from 2016 on the lipid-lowerer Crestor (rosuvastatin) and the antipsychotic Seroquel XR (quetiapine).

Filling the gap has proved difficult with AstraZeneca suffering a number of pipeline setbacks. In December, the company said that olaparib will not progress into Phase III for ovarian cancer, while the second of four Phase III studies for TC-5214, partnered with Targacept, looking at the compound as an adjunct therapy to an antidepressant, did not meet its primary end point.

Just over a week ago, the company and partner Bristol-Myers Squibb received a complete response letter from the US Food & Drug Administration, requesting additional data on the diabetes drug dapagliflozin. Against this backlog, it is going to be an interesting results meeting on February 2.