AstraZeneca to outsource manufacturing

How many drugs would a drugmaker make if a drugmaker didn't make drugs? More, says AstraZeneca, or at least more profitable ones. The company is planning to outsource its manufacturing--all of it--starting with the basic, active ingredients in its products and then fanning out from there. Contract manufacturers in China and India are most likely to get the business, company officials told the Times of London.

AstraZeneca now has 27 manufacturing facilities in 19 countries, but the company already has been whittling away at them. Most of the company's previously announced job cuts--7,600 so far--have hit manufacturing and supply-chain operations. In the end, AstraZeneca aims to be simply an R&D and marketing organization.

Will other drug makers follow suit? Big Pharma has been fairly conservative about handing over manufacturing to others, but several companies have jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon lately. Perhaps there's more to come.

- read this article on AstraZeneca's outsourcing decision
- see this report for more on the trend