Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC plans 1,400 job cuts and is closing three plants around Europe as it joins others in the sector tackling increased competition and cost pressures, Reuters reported yesterday. The job cuts announced on Thursday are in addition to the 7,600 announced in July 2007 and will see AstraZeneca closing facilities at Porrino in Spain, Destelbergen in Belgium and Umea in northern Sweden. Drug companies worldwide have eliminated thousands of jobs in the past two years as a lack of significant new drugs, declining sales of lucrative flagship franchises and fierce competition have cut into profits. Citi analysts said the plan should generate savings on top of the $1.4 billion targeted by 2010 under the current cost-reduction programme. Read more.