AstraZeneca has unveiled plans to bring the shutters down on its facilities in Avishkar, India, later this year, packing R&D ops off to the UK or external providers and other parts of the business to its site in Bangalore.

The company said in a statement that the closure will spell the loss of around 168 full-time employees working on drug development and discovery research into neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, and that it would no longer be carrying out early research in these areas.

However, work on its Phase II programme for TB, AZD5847, will move forward, and AZ's compound library will continue to be made available through open innovation partnerships, the Anglo-Swedish drug giant said. 

Pharmaceutical development projects currently carried out at the site will either transfer to the company's Macclesfield site in the UK or be carried out by outside parties, while AZ India commercial organisation and the clinical operations, also currently housed at Avishkar, will be moved to a new location in Bangalore.

Explaining the decision, AZ described the move as being part of its "broader global business strategy to simplify its research and development footprint and focus resources on three core therapy areas (oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity)," but it did stress that it still remains committed to maintaining a "significant presence" in India.