Anglo-Swedish company, AstraZeneca, which has hit the headlines in recent months after suffering a series of drug-related setbacks, is to cut 500 sales positions in the USA.

Although many are claiming that the cuts come as a result of the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision not to approve the highly-billed clot-buster, Exanta (ximelagatran) [[11/10/04a]], and the recent problems surrounding its anti-cancer agent, Iressa (gefitinib) [[20/12/04b]], [[05/01/05a]], the firm is keen to point out that the positions to be cut will be representatives employed by contract sales organisations.

A spokeswoman for the company told PharmaTimes News Online that the firm would be reducing its reliance on CSOs, which it employs to give it added flexibility to adapt to changing customer needs and control short-term costs. She noted that these contract sales employees sell older products, adding that many were recruited at the beginning of last year, with a view to having their contracts reviewed after twelve months.