Further job cuts at AstraZeneca

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that it would cut 7,600 jobs by 2010, more than double an original estimate, after posting a fall in second-quarter net profit.

The group had said in February that it planned to axe 3,000 jobs, of which 1,300 were to go at Swedish sites, as it looks to ramp up profits amid a growing threat from generic drugs makers.

The number of Swedish jobs to go under the new plans is so far unclear, but redundancies are certain to be higher than previously thought.

AstraZeneca, which makes the cholesterol treatment Crestor and breast cancer drug Arimidex, said it intends to cut about 12 percent of its global workforce over the next two and a half years as part of a major restructuring.

On Thursday, AstraZeneca said that its net profit dropped by 10.8 percent to $1.426 billion during the second quarter, from a year earlier.

Profit was hit by costs related to its acquisition of US biotechnology company MedImmune for $15.6 billion during the second quarter.

Sales grew by 9.8 percent to $7.273 billion in the three months ended June 30, compared with the second quarter in 2006.


Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.