Slump for UK home of Viagra as Pfizer shuts plant in Kent

 
Elizabeth Fournier
DRUGMAKER Pfizer plans to close a plant in Kent where 2,400 of its research and development team are based, as part of a move to cut its research budget by £1.2bn a year.

The news came as Pfizer adjusted its sales forecast for 2012, the first year that the patent will expire on its profit-driving cholesterol pill Lipitor.

To offset the downside Pfizer will cut its 2012 research and development spending by as much as $2bn (£1.24bn) from a planned $8bn-$8.5bn. It will also increase its share buyback programme by $5bn extra.

Vince Cable called the closure of the site, where key Pfizer products Viagra and hypertension pill Norvasc were discovered, “extremely disappointing”, and said that the government would be meeting with Pfizer to discuss alternative uses for the abandoned facilities.

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said that the company would also improve accountability around its research spending, having faced criticism in the past for poor investment choices.

“We need a focus at each stage,” he said. “If we don’t have the data, we won’t continue to invest.”

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls took the opportunity to attack the UK government’s investment in manufacturing. While praising strong manufacturing figures he also reiterated the importance of investment to job creation for the UK.

“The government needs to explain why they are cutting Labour’s investment allowances for manufacturers by £75,000 and using the money to give a corporation tax cut which will overwhelmingly benefit the banks,” he said.

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