AstraZeneca - Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011

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Company: AstraZeneca ($AZN)
Based: London
Job cuts announced: 1,550
Dates revealed: Dec. 7 (1,150), Oct. 7 (400)
Themes: Generics competition, pricing pressures

The scoop: AstraZeneca wielded a sharp layoff ax in 2011, cutting hundreds of jobs in sales and marketing as the London-based drug giant braces for the expiration of patents on major brands such as the antipsychotic drug Seroquel and rethinks the economics of its business amid downward drug pricing-especially in Europe. And while the drugmaker revealed more than 1,500 job cuts in the U.S. and Europe last year, the company has been building its presence in the emerging Chinese market.

Pink slips were readied in December when the company announced that it would be cutting 1,150 jobs from its U.S. sales organization, cleaving nearly a quarter of the sales team. With setbacks in clinical trials, AstraZeneca is short on programs that could yield new products, and as generic versions of Seroquel and the stomach acid drug Nexium eat into sales, the company won't need as much rep support for those brands.

AZ targeted its U.S. commercial group for 400 more job cuts in October, blaming generics competition and pricing woes for the layoffs. Those cutbacks hit the company's U.S. headquarters in Wilmington, DE, hardest.