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Pfizer research site closed

2nd February 2011

Drug manufacturer Pfizer is shutting a research and development site in the UK.

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The plant, in Sandwich in Kent, currently employs about 2,400 people, although Pfizer says it hopes to transfer several hundred positions to other sites or other companies doing work for Pfizer.

The closure is part of a reorganisation of the drug manufacturer’s global research and development capacity, though unions have voiced concerns over the lost of highly-skilled jobs.

The sandwich site – described by Ruth McKernan, who heads the site, as having played “an important role in the discovery and development of medicines and has brought many life-saving treatments to patients” – conducted research into allergy and respiratory drugs.

Most of the workforce looks set to be made redundant over the next two years.
Unite’s national officer, Linda McCulloch said: “This closure exposes the government's vacuous claim that the private sector will compensate for its brutal cuts."

A company spokesperson confirmed the decision to close Sandwich did not reflect any unhappiness with government policy and Business Secretary Vince Cable said the firm's decision was not about the UK as a location for pharmaceutical research.

Describing the decision as “extremely disappointing”, he said he would be meeting Pfizer representatives.

But he added: “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.”

Pfizer closed its manufacturing operations in Sandwich in 2007.

Labour's shadow business secretary John Denham said the proposal was a “deeply worrying development.”

 

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