AstraZeneca plans to eliminate approximately 700 U.S. jobs and cut spending in its commercial business operations, blaming the likelihood of lower revenues next year due to loss of exclusivity for some of its blockbuster drugs.

The job cuts will occur across the U.S., and include the North America commercial headquarters, as well as “some” field-based sales and field-based non-sales positions, AstraZeneca said yesterday in a statement.

Accoding to the company, approximately 80 of the cuts will come from existing positions.

“We continue to face loss of exclusivity impacts from many of our legacy products and work to compete in an ever-changing external environment,” the company said in a statement.

That loss of exclusivity has resulted in generic competitors to two of its branded prescription drugs. Nexium® (esomeprazole), the proton-pump inhibitor that reduces stomach acid, lost its monopoly last year. The anti-cholesterol statin Crestor® (rosuvastatin calcium) has faced competition from an Allergan generic launched in May.

In July, the FDA approved generic versions of Crestor by Apotex, Aurobindo, Glenmark, Mylan, Par, Sandoz, Sun, and Teva, over AstraZeneca's objections in the forms of a petition to the agency and a federal lawsuit.

The competition is taking its toll on both branded drugs. In their final years before the arrival of the generics, Nexium generated $3.655 billion in 2014, and Crestor, $5.017 billion last year.

In the first nine months of this year, Crestor saw its sales fall 24% from last year, to $2.77 billion, while Nexium sales slid 19% from Q1–Q3 2015, to $1.541 billion, according to third-quarter results released by AstraZeneca on November 10.

During the third quarter, the arrival of multiple generic versions of Crestor drove a 14% year-over-year decline in produce sales to 5.025 billion—accounting for a 4% decrease in total revenue, which fell to $5.699 billion, AstraZeneca said last month.

“By diligently prioritizing, we will continue to successfully launch and commercialize new medicines, meet the needs of our customers and patients, and ultimately help AstraZeneca return to growth,” the company added in a statement.

The U.S. headquarters, in Fairfax, DE, will see about 120 jobs eliminated, the company told The News-Journal of Wilmington, DE.

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