When Pfizer decided to close its R&D site in Sandwich it renewed concerns over the UK's attractiveness to the pharma industry.
The site employs 2400 people and although Pfizer has stated that some positions will be transferred to other sites or to other
companies working with Pfizer, it is expected that most staff will be made redundant over the next two years (1).
Historically, the UK has been one of the leading forces in the world of pharmaceuticals. The pharma industry is also a major
contributor to the country's economy. The job losses at Pfizer have come at an unfortunate time with the UK economy still
emerging from recession and unemployment remaining high. According to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries
and Associations (EFPIA), the innovative pharmaceutical industry is an "important engine of economic recovery", which means
that the UK can ill afford to lose investment from a company of Pfizer's size and stature (2). It's not just Pfizer either;
a number of other companies have announced cuts in the UK, including AstraZeneca, GSK and Novartis.
The pharma industry's economic importance to the UK is illustrated by figures from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical
Industry (ABPI), which show that the industry has been a net earner for the country for the past 30 years (3). In 2009, the
pharmaceutical industry invested £4.4 billion (€5 billion) in UK R&D and employed 72?000 staff. For a number of years, however,
EFPIA has been concerned about a drift in investment away from Europe to the US and to the fast-growing economies of Brazil,
China and India (2). According to EFPIA, excessive interventions by European national governments to control healthcare expenditure
have dented multinational pharma companies' confidence to invest in the region. The organisation will, no doubt, be alarmed
by Pfizer's decision to downgrade its investment in the UK, and the fact that it may prompt other large companies to reconsider
their presence in the country.