AstraZeneca turnaround plan may take four years, warns drugs chief

Turning around drug maker AstraZeneca will be a long haul, with a strategy of revamping research and boosting acquisitions to take up to four years to pay off, its chief executive said yesterday.

Speaking as the group unveiled the location for a new global head office and research centre in Cambridge, Pascal Soriot said he was not expecting any short-term fixes for the group, which is struggling from falling sales as patents expire.

“You’ve got to look at this over a horizon of three to four years, it is not a six-month horizon,” he said. “And it is not going to be a smooth journey. We will have ups and downs.”

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The company’s £320 million site will be completed in 2016. However, AstraZeneca plans to transfer some staff from its existing Alderley Park facility in Cheshire before then, possibly as early as December, using rented laboratories and offices.

Soriot also said headline results of the so-called “Savor” clinical study looking at the potential heart benefits of diabetes drug Onglyza were due “in the next few days”, but declined to comment further.

AstraZeneca announced plans for the new research site in March, but did not confirm the exact location until yesterday.

The company had previously announced plans to cease research in Cheshire, with about 1,600 roles moving from the site over the next three years.

Combined with the closure of its London head office, the group expects to cut about 700 UK jobs by 2016.

AstraZeneca’s biologics arm MedImmune already employs about 500 staff in Cambridge.