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Pfizer to close Viagra research site putting 2,400 medical research jobs at risk

Pfizer the drug group, dealt a major blow to Britain’s pharmaceutical industry this week- with a decision to pull out of its research site in Kent, putting up to 2,400 jobs at risk.
Pfizer to close Viagra research site putting 2,400 medical research jobs at riskUS-based Pfizer said that over the next 18 months to two years, the majority of people working at the site in Sandwich, which researches drugs for allergies and respiratory conditions, would be made redundant. However, the company hopes to “transfer several hundred positions to other Pfizer sites or to external partners”.

The closure of the site, which discovered some of Pfizer’s most high-profile medicines, including Viagra, brings to an end the company’s 57-year history in the town.

Like other major drug companies facing patent expiries on top-selling medicines, Pfizer is taking steps to streamline its research and development (R&D) activities.

Tuesday’s announcement marked an acceleration of that strategy as Pfizer revealed plans to reduce the number of disease areas it focuses on and cut its R&D budget by up to £1.2 billion each year, to around £4 billion to £4.4 billion.

A Pfizer spokesman said the company was concentrating its efforts on “where we can deliver the greatest medical and commercial impact”.

Dr Ruth McKernan, head of the Sandwich site, said the plant had a “rich history in science research”. “It is hoped that we can retain this proud R&D heritage through strategic partnerships in the future,” she added.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skils, described the decision as “extremely disappointing”.

“The company has been clear that this decision was part of its global programme of change and not based on a judgement of the UK as a location for pharmaceutical research,” he added.

“This country is an attractive location for the life sciences industry and with R&D tax credits and our plans to introduce a Patent Box, the Government is committed to ensuring the UK is the destination of choice for investment, research and growth.”

But Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said the move was “a shocking wake-up call”. “We must respond to this signal that one of our most important industries no longer has confidence in the future of British science,” he said.

The news came as Pfizer reported a 4pc rise in full-year net income to £5.2 billion, on sales 36pc higher at £42.4 billion.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Pfizer-to-close-Viagra-research-site-putting-2400-UK-jobs-at-risk

The Pfizer closures comes only a few days after Health Direct posted that NHS red tape harming patients and medical research at http://www.healthdirect.co.uk/2011/02/nhs-red-tape-harming-patients-and-medical-research.html when we said that urgent changes are required to the regulation and governance of health research in the UK because unnecessary delays, bureaucracy and complexity are stifling medical advances, without additional benefits to patient safety.

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