Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca will cut 1,150 jobs in the U.S. with the intention of streamlining the business.

As a result, the UK’s second-biggest drugmaker, will reduce its U.S. sales force by 24%. This comes on top of 400 U.S. job losses announced in October. As part of a restructuring programme, in 2010, the company had also announced 10,400 global job cuts.

These changes are driven by the need to effectively compete in a challenging environment, said spokesman Tony Jewell. The changes will result in a $50 million to $100 million charge in the fourth quarter, and there will be no effect on the company’s forecast for core earnings-per-share for the year, AstraZeneca said in a statement today.

The changes we are making, however, will help us deliver better results for our business and, most importantly, continue delivering on our mission of patient health, Rich Fante, president of AstraZeneca U.S. said.

Patents are expiring on big sellers like Nexium for heartburn and the schizophrenia drug Seroquel, which, in addition to the generic competition and pricing pressures, are already weighing on AstraZeneca's sales. Besides these aspects, the firm also faces a major challenge to its biggest-selling medicine Crestor, following the arrival of cheap generic versions of Pfizer's market-leading cholesterol pill Lipitor.

With the firm having few new drugs to replace these major ones, it has resulted in the sales line being exposed and that in turn has put its management under pressure to cut costs wherever possible.