Drug industry fears thousands of job cuts

Drug image

Drug development threatened by US company takeover

The potential takeover of UK pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca could damage Britain’s drug development industry. US drugs giant Pfizer are in the pipeline to acquire AstraZeneca, although experts warn this could lead to lab closures, affecting the UK’s research base.

Four scientific bodies – including the Society of Biology, Biochemical Society, British Pharmacological Society and Royal Society of Chemistry – have voiced concerns, with Dr Melanie Lee, a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences telling BBC News that the move could be a “nail in the coffin” of the UK drug industry.

Out of a job

Adrian Bailey, Labour MP and chair of the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee is also raising an inquiry amid fears of further job cuts after Pfizer sold its UK-based research facilities in Sandwich, Kent in 2011 with the loss of 1,500 jobs, many of which were highly skilled.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, told BBC News “We have been been a world leader in pharmaceutical research producing many of the world’s best selling medicines. But if restructuring continues in a way where we lose skills and investment that will be detrimental to everybody. We can’t let this drift.”