AstraZeneca plc is betting that significantly downsizing internal R&D in neurology will allow it to run cheaper and faster - and if necessary fail more quickly and cost-effectively - in a disease area that has historically high attrition rates.

The company says its neuroscience investment will continue at current levels despite large headcount reductions, and adopting a new model focused on externalization will give CNS-focused biotechs even more opportunity to collaborate with the pharma.