Pfizer to close UK research centre

Pfizer is to close its research centre in Cambridge, UK, with the loss of 120 jobs.

The company confirmed on Thursday that work would cease at the site as part of global plans to cut investment in pain research.

Pfizer’s site in Granta Park, Cambridge, will be hit as it specialises in pain medicine.

The company said in a statement: “Pfizer is continually reviewing and evolving its R&D strategy to ensure that we are best positioned to deliver breakthrough therapies that meet patient needs while driving a return on investment.”

Adding that research was a “complex endeavour, with a lot of inherent risk and failure” it said difficult decisions needed to be made even in promising therapy areas.

The news comes just a year-and-a-half after Pfizer abandoned its takeover bid for AstraZeneca (AZ) – its £70 billion bid was rejected by the UK-headquartered pharma giant, among its arguments was the claim that Pfizer could not be relied on to support UK based research.

Pfizer decided to close its major R&D centre in Sandwich, Kent in 2011, with the loss of most of the site’s 2,400 jobs. However, after having sold the site to a consortium, Pfizer decided to retain several hundred research staff at the location, a fact frequently overlooked in media reports.

Pfizer said it will “continue to maintain a significant presence” in the UK, with a total of more than 2,500 employees in the country.

The news also comes hot on the heels of Pfizer agreeing to buy Botox-maker Allergan for $160 billion – the biggest pharma merger deal ever. Its buyout of the Dublin-domiciled firm has been largely motivated by the fact that it allows a ‘tax inversion’, which means it can avoid paying high US corporate tax rates and taxes on foreign earnings, the same impetus behind the AZ bid.

Further cuts to the research base of the combined Pfizer-Allergan group are expected once the merger is completed in 2016, subject to regulatory clearance.

Pfizer says it will continue to invest in initiatives such as the Rare Diseases Consortium, a partnership with universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.

The firm also recently announced that Professor Michael Linden, a leading Kings College London academic researcher, is joining the company to run a new genetic medicines research centre in London.

Related article

Pfizer confirms $160bn reverse takeover of Allergan

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.