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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-Roche says no decision on job cuts this week

* Newspaper reports Roche set to slash jobs in pharma unit

* Company says management to meet but won’t be jobs decision

(Recasts, adds background on analysts looking for cost cuts)

ZURICH, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG ROG.VX said on Sunday it would not make any decision on job cuts this week, after Swiss newspaper Sonntag reported it could be about to cut thousands of positions.

Jobs would not only be slashed in the drug sales team but also in research and development, production and administration of the pharma division, Sonntag said.

“This will not only concern a few hundred people but many more. And the job cuts will not be made in one single country but on a worldwide scale,” the source familiar with the matter was quoted as saying in an article published on Sunday.

Contacted by Reuters, Roche spokesman Alexander Klauser said: “We are always working to improve productivity and will continue to do so. But it is too early to speculate on potential job cuts.”

He said Roche management would hold its monthly meeting at the beginning of the week but no decision would be made on job cuts.

The world’s largest maker of cancer drugs has recently faced setbacks for key drugs, leading several analysts to suggest it will have to cut costs to protect future profit growth.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected the Swiss group’s request to fast-track a licence application for a new treatment.

The FDA might also revoke approval for Roche’s blockbuster breast cancer drug Avastin. [ID:nLDE66K1H3]

Drugmakers are facing increased pricing pressures as cash-strapped governments, particularly in Europe, wrestle with record budget deficits by slashing medicine costs.

Austerity measures are expected to have a 2 percent impact on Roche’s sales this year, Chief Executive Severin Schwan said when the group published its first-half results in July. [ID:nLDE66K1H3]

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by David Cowell

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