MedImmune unit split 3 ways in AstraZeneca shake-up

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FluMist manufacturing--courtesy of MedImmune

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) management shake-up earlier this week was just the tip of a reorganizational iceberg. When the U.K.-based drugmaker elevated MedImmune's Bahija Jallal to head up biologics development, it gutted the unit's commercial and manufacturing operations. AstraZeneca managers will take over MedImmune's marketing, sales and production, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Since AstraZeneca bought MedImmune in 2007 for $15.6 billion, the business has operated more or less on its own. With new CEO Pascal Soriot now at the wheel, MedImmune will be integrated more closely with AZ's core operations.

So, MedImmune itself will be AstraZeneca's official biologics R&D center, headed up, as announced earlier this week, by Jallal. Ex-MedImmune president Peter Greenleaf has stepped aside for a job running the company's Latin American business.

The unit's commercial arm--which had been charged with promoting such products as the FluMist influenza vaccine--will be folded into AstraZeneca's North American business, as part of a new specialty products group, MedImmune spokesman Mike O'Brien told the WBJ.

Its manufacturing will join the company's global production network, to be supervised along with its other plants worldwide. "The driver for these changes is not cost but even faster decision-making in key areas of the business and a need to reduce complexity," O'Brien told the Business Journal.

Will the MedImmune reorganization create opportunities for cost-cutting, though? That remains to be seen. "There's no new news on jobs today," O'Brien said (as quoted by the Washington Post).

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