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Externalizing neurology

AstraZeneca creates virtual R&D neurology unit to run cheaper, faster

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.

AstraZeneca this month announced a restructuring that includes a 7,300-person headcount reduction. About 2,200 of this is coming from R&D.

The transition of the neuroscience innovative medicines unit (iMED) to a virtual R&D model is a major component of the R&D revamp. The move is consistent with changes that began in 2010, when

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