LONDON - AstraZeneca PLC says it has hired Pfizer Inc. executive Martin Mackay for the British drug maker's newly created position of president of research and development.

AstraZeneca said Wednesday that Scottish-born Mackay, currently president of PharmaTherapeutics Research & Development at Pfizer, will take up his new role on July 1.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan says that Mackay's appointment to the new role "will provide a single point of senior accountability as we continue to make the changes necessary to improve the productivity and efficiency of our research and development organization."

AstraZeneca has embarked on a major cost-cutting program, including axing thousands of jobs, as it faces increasing competition from generic drug makers.

The British drugmaker has U.S. headquarters near Wilmington and a division in the Philadelphia area. Pfizer has operations in Collegeville and Great Valley after its takeover last year of Wyeth.