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AstraZeneca's U.S. business to cut 400 jobs

(Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc said on Thursday it will cut about 400 jobs from its U.S. commercial business as Britain's second-largest drugmaker seeks to reduce costs.

The cuts will hit the company's U.S. headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, as well as some field-based, non-sales positions, AstraZeneca said. About 70 of the jobs facing elimination are currently vacant.

The London-based company faces a challenge to drive growth beyond 2016, when more patents will expire on drugs such as cholesterol fighter Crestor and anti-psychotic Seroquel XR.

"This will be very difficult for our entire organization, particularly the people who are directly impacted," AstraZeneca U.S. President Rich Fante said in a statement.

"However, these changes are necessary to build a leaner, more efficient organization that will enable the company to continue delivering against our mission of patient health and sustaining a strong business for years to come."

AstraZeneca workers could volunteer to leave the company and all the decisions will be finalized by early December, the company said.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh in Washington; additional reporting by Anna Yukhananov, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)