MedImmune reductions ‘part of the plan,’ says AstraZeneca

London

Rumors of staff cuts from AstraZeneca’s ($AZN) MedImmune biologics arm are part of previously stated changes and a deeper focus (and a larger cash pile) for its oncology research.

Rumors have been growing that AZ was axing staffers at MedImmune over the past week, but the Big Pharma tells FierceBiotech that this is part of the course originally announced back in its Q1 update in the spring.

As the company looks to make cancer research a primary point of focus--an area it believes will help it grow toward its sales targets by the next decade--it will be taking the ax to other positions to shore up revenue from this latest push, as its plans come into effect.

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The company told FierceBiotech in a statement: “In April, AstraZeneca announced the sharpening of our focus on our main therapy areas to prioritize our pipeline and improve efficiency and productivity across the organization. This will see the company allocate additional investment to core areas, particularly oncology. This is a natural progression of our strategy and reflects increased pipeline productivity, as well as the evolving shape of the overall company portfolio with a growing proportion of specialty-care medicines.”

It now wants to throw its efforts behind what Astra now sees as its main therapy areas, as well as prioritizing certain elements of its pipeline over others--all the while also saving cash by “driving greater productivity and efficiency across the organization.”

The company said that, as “a normal course of business, we have shifted some resources and have had minimal staffing reductions, while hiring for critical roles in key areas such as oncology.” It did not give any specific numbers or timeframe.

The company is also rumored to be pursuing Big Pharma favorite Medivation ($MDVN), a cancer-focused biotech with a strong oncology pipeline and access to blockbuster sales from prostate cancer drug Xtandi (enzalutamide) in the U.S. AZ would not talk to FierceBiotech about these rumors.

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