Sunday 8 May 2016 2:10 pm

EU referendum: Now top life science bosses warn of Brexit risk, including GSK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer in open later

Top bosses at firms such as GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are among more than 90 leaders in the life sciences who are the latest to warn of the risks of Britain leaving Europe.

In a letter, published in the Observer, the group warned of the implications on the sector which employs more than 222,000 people, spends £4bn on research and development, as well as receiving high levels in inward investment.

"We see significant advantages for the life sciences sector in the UK remaining part of the EU. This would enable the sector to continue to operate within an established and harmonised regulatory approval system, ensuring that UK patients benefit from medicines more quickly, and that medicines researched and manufactured in the UK are available across the EU sooner," the group said.

Read more: Hundreds of tech startups and entrepreneurs signed this Brexit open letter

Several top pharmaceutical executives are among the signatories, including GlaxoSmithKline's chief Sir Andrew Witty, AstraZeneca's chief Pascal Soriot, Pfizer's Europe boss Richard Blackburn.

Witty said: "Large parts of the UK’s life sciences base has strong links with Europe whether that be for trade, manufacturing, scientific research collaborations or the harmonised regulatory drug approval system. Leaving the EU would create uncertainty and potentially add complexity. That’s why GSK sees advantages in remaining in the EU."

Top executives in the UK and Europe at the world's biggest pharma firms – Shire, Abbvie, Allergan, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi and Bayer – also signed the letter, along with those in the burgeoning biotech industry and academics.

The letter concludes: "Leaving the EU would bring added complexity and uncertainty, which is bad for business and research. Remaining in a reformed and more competitive EU would offer stability and predictability as a platform for even greater success. Staying in would be better for the health and wealth of the UK."

The warning came as it was revealed the life sciences contributed £60.7bn to the UK economy, while exports to Europe generated £11bn for the economy last year.

"This is a serious warning from the leaders of the UK’s £60bn life science sector, which highlights the choice in this referendum: our economic security and global influence as part of the EU, or a leap in the dark," said life sciences minister George Freeman. 

The 92 signatories

Sir Andrew Witty, chief, GSK

Pascal Soriot, chief, AstraZeneca

Mike Thompson, chief, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

Steve Bates, chief, UK BioIndustry Association

Prof Sir John Bell, chair, Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research

Richard Blackburn, regional president Europe, global innovative pharma, Pfizer

Soeren Bo Christiansen, president, MSD Europe and Canada Human Health, Merck Sharp & Dohme

Dr Jane Griffiths, company group chairman, Janssen EMEA

Rudolf Ertl, MD, senior vice president, commercial operations EMEA, Gilead

Jean-Christophe Tellier, chief, UCB Pharma

Gitte Pugholm Aabo, president and chief, LeoPharma

Dr Jorge Gallardo, president and chief, Almirall

Dr Jan van Ruymbeke, chief, Daiichi Sankyo Europe

Philip Ashman, senior vice president-managing director, Europe, Alimera Sciences

Nick Burgin, president and chief operating officer EMEA, Eisai Europe

John Dawson, chief, Alliance Pharma

Matt Regan, UK general manager, AbbVie

Robin Bhattacherjee, general manager, Actelion Pharmaceuticals UK

Sean Connor, UK general manager, ALK-Abello

Steve Higgins, general manager UK and Ireland, Allergan

John Kearney, general manager UK and Ireland, Amgen

Dr Alexander Moscho, managing director, Bayer

Terry O'Regan, vice president and managing director UK and Ireland, Biogen Idec 

Professor Dr Klaus Dugi, managing director and medical director, UK and Ireland, Boehringer Ingelheim

Johanna Mercier, managing director, UK and Ireland, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Wim Souverijns, vice president and general manager, UK and Ireland, Celegene

Tom Delahoyde, managing director, Chiesi

Dr Jan-Uwe Class, general manager UK, Grunenthal

Dr Jean-Michel Cosséry, vice president and managing director, Eli Lilly UK and northern Europe

Hugh O'Dowd, country president and general manager, United Kingdom and Ireland, Novartis

Jose Falcon, country manager, PharmaMar

Santoke Naal, managing director UK and Ireland, Pierre Fabre

Tarja Stenvall, general manager, UK Sanofi

Takashi Takenoshita, chief, Shionogi EU

Sebastian Stachowiak, general manager, Shire Pharmaceuticals UK

Dr Erik Miljan, chief, Biodivide

Keith Thompson, chief, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and BIA Board

Dr Will West, executive chairman, CellCentric

Peter George, group chief, Clinigen Group

Dr Peter Pack, chief, Crescendo Biologics

David Williams, chief, Discuva

Dr Eddy Littler, chief, Domainex

Dr Abel Ureta-Vidal, chief, Eagle Genomics

Dr John Haurum, chief, F-star

Kieran Murphy, chief, GE Healthcare UK

Dr Mark Carnegie-Brown, chief, Glide Pharmaceutical Technologies

Dr David Simpson, chief, Glythera

Sean Sutcliffe, chief, Green Biologics

Dr Malcolm Weir, founder, director and chief, Heptares Therapeutics

Dr Darrin Disley, chief and president, Horizon Discovery and BIA Board

Dr Kevin Cox, chief, Imanova and BIA Board

Dr John McCafferty, chief, IONTAS

Dr Simon Kerry, chief, Karus Therapeutics

Dr Jane Osbourn, BIA Board chair and VP R&D, MedImmune UK, MedImmune and BIA Board

Dr Anthony Lockett, founder and chief, MEDQP

Dr Anker Lundemose, chief, Mission Therapeutics

Dr Andreas Schatzlein, chief, Nanomerics

Dr Dale Athey, chief, Orla Protein Technologies

Dr Christian Rohlff, chief, Oxford BioTherapeutics

Dr Andrew Lightfoot, chief, Peptinnovate and BIA Board

Dr Ted Fjallman, chief, Prokarium

Dr John Beadle, chief, PsiOxus Therapeutics

Dr Oliver Hardick, chief and founder, Puridify

Dr Neil Murray, chief, Redx Pharma and BIA Board

Olav Hellebo, chief, ReNeuron Group

Aidan Courtney, chief, Roslin Cell Science

Dr Richard Goodfellow, joint chief, Scancell

Carl Sterritt, chief, Shield Therapeutics

Ali Mortazavi, chief, Silence Therapeutics

Glyn Edwards, chief, Summit (Oxford)

Dr David Venables, chief, Synpromics

Dr Morag McFarlane, chief, Tissue Solutions

Jonny Ohlsonm, chief, founder, director, Touchlight Genetics

James Ward-Lilley, chief, Vectura Group

Stephen Sichak, executive vice president, Becton Dickinson

Jen Hyatt, founder, Big White Wall Holdings

Alasdair Stamps, advisory board chair, BioPartner UK

John Jeans, Life Sciences Champion

Dr Andy Richards CBE, chairman, Congenica, Ixico, Abcodia

Dr Emma Banks, chief, Datatrial

Sir John Chisholm, executive chair, Genomics England

Tim Sheppard, general manager, UK and Ireland, IMS Health

Dr Eliot Forster, chair, MedCity

Prof. Sir Michael Rawlins, chairman, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Harriet Fear, chief, One Nucleus

Neil Mesher, chief, Philips Electronics

Professor Richard Barker, chairman, Precision Medicine Catapult

Chris Brinsmead CBE, chairman, Proveca

Martino Picardo, chief, Stevenage Bioscience Catapult

Professor Charles Craddock CBE, director, blood and marrow transplant unit and director, Centre for Clinical Haematology, University of Birmingham

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, faculty of medicine, University of Leeds

Professor Simon Lovestone, professor of translational neuroscience, department of psychiatry University of Oxford

Dame Julie Moore, chief executive, University Hospitals Birmingham