Andrew Miller says Pfizer’s potential takeover of AstraZeneca is threat to UK Science
Andrew Miller, chair of the science select committee, has written to David Willetts the science minister to discuss his concern about Pfizer’s potential takeover of AstraZeneca. This has added to the overwhelming sense of unease within Britain’s science community.
The committee said its concerns had not been helped by the appearance of Pfizer boss Ian Read and Mikael Dolsten who is the research chief of Pfizer. Pfizer has pledged to keep 20% of the combined research and development workforce in Britain. Miller wants more assurances from the US drug maker over AstraZenceca, with the committee not confident that the government could hold the Pfizer to any promises.
As one of the UK’s largest pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca has had a presence in the UK since the formation of the Imperial Chemical Industries in 1926. AstraZeneca forms a major part in the UK science landscape, Miller wrote.
He also noted that a lack of detail on the assurances from Pfizer and an admission of plans to break up AstraZeneca and lower the spending on R&D. Have further fuelled doubt in Miller’s Mind.
“Bigger is not always better when it comes to innovation,” Miller wrote, echoing a comment made by AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot in recent days. He said such a mega merger would reverse the current trend in Big Pharma for smaller, more agile operations and could put at risk the collaborations AstraZeneca has had for many years with UK universities, charities and small firms.
It seems that Miller and Soriot are not the only ones with doubts over the takeover. The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Society of Biology and the Welcome Trust. The Welcome Trust being a major funder of UK science have all expressed similar doubts. If the takeover was to go ahead surely would disrupt and cause some uncertainty between the two companies at a crucial and transformative period in the industry.