AstraZeneca is to cut around 1,600 jobs as it overhauls research operations and consolidates drug development work in three major centres in Britain, the United States and Sweden.

The move will see the end of drug development at AstraZeneca’s Alderley Park facility in northwest England, for many years a hub of the group’s research and development (R&D) efforts.

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot has said that future R&D would be more intently focused on three key therapy areas – cancer; cardiovascular and metabolism disorders; and respiratory and inflammatory diseases – with reduced spending on anti-infectives and neuroscience.

The decision to spend less on infection, which comes at a time when health officials are warning of a lack of new drugs to fight antibiotic resistance, highlights the reluctance of drug firms to invest in an area with poor returns.

AstraZeneca also aims to step up its pace of deal-making to replenish a sparse drug pipeline and Soriot said the emphasis would be on finding promising products in the three priority areas via a series of licensing deals and acquisitions.

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