A group of experts is warning that Pfizer’s proposed £60bn takeover of AstraZeneca could damage the development of new drugs in the UK.
The Society of Biology, Biochemical Society, British Pharmacological Society and Royal Society of Chemistry released a statement denouncing the proposed acquisition as “another sign of the global trend for pharmaceuticals”.
“The UK has been a world-leader in medicines research and development, but recent closures and restructuring put this position under threat,” the statement reads.
Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, told the BBC News that the UK had long been a “world leader” in pharmaceutical research.
“If restructuring continues in a way where we lose skills and investment that will be detrimental to everybody – we can’t let this drift.”
But Professor Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of the Royal Institution, didn’t believe Pfizer would close research facilities in the UK.
“I think it would be rather stupid of them to close AstraZeneca’s state of the art facilities,” said Professor Sykes who is also the former head of the UK drugs giant GSK.
He added: “With the opportunity to build the big science base they have in an area like Cambridge around one of the top science groups in the world, they would be crazy not to do that and they will jump at that opportunity.”
Proposal is a “win-win for society” says Pfizer
Speaking to MPs this week, Pfizer’s head of research and development said the proposed takeover was designed to lead to a “much better outcome for patients”.
Whilst a merger could help cancer patients live for “years rather than months”, Mikael Dolsten acknowledged it might also result in fewer scientists.
The Government has promised a “hard-nosed approach” to Pfizer’s proposed takeover of AstraZeneca.
Science Minister, David Willetts, is now calling on Pfizer for guarantees of more than five years on research and development jobs.
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