Glaxo Cuts Jobs in Finance, Adds in Cancer in Hunt for Drugs

(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc is cutting finance and accounting positions while bringing in people with cancer and science backgrounds as the U.K.’s biggest drug company shifts spending to develop its best new treatments.

The new strategy has led to a “reasonable number” of job cuts, said Luke Miels, president of the London-based company’s global pharmaceutical division, declining to quantify them. Glaxo at the same time is increasing the number of medical science liaisons, specialists who establish relationships with top doctors, as well other roles, he said in an interview.

Glaxo Cuts Jobs in Finance, Adds in Cancer in Hunt for Drugs

“What we’ve tried to do is to be more efficient in those back-office areas so that we can release funds to concentrate on investing in our newer products,” Miels said in an interview. “It’s part of a broader shift to align with where we think the pipeline is going.”

Miels, formerly of rival AstraZeneca Plc, was one of the first key hires for Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley last year. The CEO has pledged to deliver more blockbuster drugs, narrow Glaxo’s focus and boost its returns on investment. Hal Barron, a former top executive at Roche Holding AG, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, was named research and development president.

As Glaxo looks to strengthen its pipeline, it’s also weighing potential deals, Miels said. The drugmaker is focusing on the “smaller end of transactions, looking at innovative molecules” that may be a better fit within Glaxo than at another company, he said.

Changing Roles

Meanwhile, the company is pushing sales of new respiratory products to offset declines for blockbuster asthma drug Advair, Walmsley said in April. One key medicine is Trelegy Ellipta, a three-in-one drug to treat a chronic lung disease that won U.S. approval last year. Glaxo said last month that it had seen increased pricing and competitive pressures in the U.S. market for lung drugs in the first three months of 2018, which will cause Advair sales to drop about 30 percent there this year.

“Our focus is about establishing these newer, more innovative and what we believe are more effective products,” Miels said.

About 70 percent of the general-manager roles across Glaxo’s top 10 markets have changed, he said. Walmsley has said that Glaxo is making sure it has the best people in 370 key roles as the company seeks to change its culture and move at a quicker pace. As of January, she had replaced about 50 of her 125 top managers.

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