Employees: 57,200

Employees: 51,700
Change: -5,500, -10.6%

Revenues: $33.596B

Revenues: $27.97B

The 5,500-employee reduction in AstraZeneca's ($AZN) workforce last year was less than half the downsizing done by Pfizer ($PFE) but was still the second largest reduction among the top 10 in terms of both numbers and percent.

The reason that AstraZeneca needed to get smaller is well known. Its 17% decline in revenues last year was also the largest among the top 10 pharma. Interestingly, by making such sizable cuts, it ranked number four in revenues per employee last year.

Still, the AstraZeneca board didn't like the way things were going and got itself a new CEO. David Brennan quit under pressure and AZ replaced him with Roche ($RHHBY) pharma chief Pascal Soriot. The choice of an executive from a pharma-focused company--rather than a more diversified drugmaker such as GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) or Novartis ($NVS)--is an indication its board wants the new leader to continue to steer a prescription-drug course.

But it is a prescription house that faces tough times. The company lost exclusivity, at least in some parts of the world, on four drugs last year. The biggest hit came from the antipsychotic Seroquel's instant-release formula, which lost more than $3 billion in global sales. The erosion of revenues from generics for Seroquel, along with hits to stomach drug Nexium, the hypertension and heart failure drug Atacand and the antibiotic Merrem, accounted for 85% of AstraZeneca's revenue decline.

To deal with the difficulties, AZ has been making some development deals but has already announced job cuts in R&D and sales this year that would nearly equal the job losses from 2012. So maybe next year, it falls off the list.

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