Pfizer set to close Sandwich site in line with R&D cuts

Pfizer is to close its Sandwich site in Kent following the announcement yesterday of a planned reduction in its research and development (R&D) spend.

Approximately 3,600 staff work at the 340-acre site, which is Pfizer’s European headquarters for R&D and the Pfizer global manufacturing site for the UK.

In its fourth-quarter and full-year 2010 results, the biopharmaceuticals company said that its adjusted R&D expenses are expected to be between $6.5bn (£4bn) and $7bn, compared with its previous target of between $8bn and $8.5bn.

The company said in a statement that the drop in R&D spend is a result of the planned reduction in the number of disease areas it will focus on based upon where the greatest medical and commercial impact can be achieved, as well as a realigned R&D footprint.

‘This rips out a major part of the UK’s scientific infrastructure,’ said Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. ‘The government must act now to keep these highly skilled scientific jobs in this country.

‘If this had been a high-street bank, the government would be talking about [it being] “too big to fail”. One in every £5 of the British GDP stems from chemical sciences, and the pharmaceuticals industry has been a crown jewel in the UK’s economy.’

Pfizer’s shares closed at $19.22 yesterday on the NYSE, a rise of 5.49 per cent.