Sector News

As U.K. politicians fret Brexit will ‘decimate medical research,’ AstraZeneca sticks to R&D plan

October 17, 2018
Life sciences

AstraZeneca’s reiteration of its previously announced freeze on investments in U.K. manufacturing has caused alarm among politicians. In the fevered pre-Brexit environment, pro-Remain politicians saw the reiteration of an old position as evidence the split from the U.K. will decimate life science research.

The excitement stems from a comment AstraZeneca chairman Leif Johansson made to French newspaper Le Monde. Johansson said AstraZeneca would maintain its decision not to invest in the U.K. if there is no transition deal that clarifies the terms of the post-Brexit relationship with the European Union. The comment was seized upon by politicians opposed to Brexit.

“More grim #BrexitReality as AstraZeneca halts investment in U.K. No one voted to decimate medical research,” Sarah Wollaston, a pro-Remain MP, doctor and chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, wrote on Twitter.

Wollaston was not the only public figure to see implications for U.K. life science research in Johansson’s comments. Phillip Lee, a politician who resigned over the government’s approach to Brexit, made a similar link to Wollaston, stating “we need to keep our world-class research base if we want our pharmaceutical industry to survive and thrive.”

The fears are somewhat divorced from the current reality, though. While certain outcomes to Brexit could feasibly affect AstraZeneca’s investment in R&D in the U.K., as it stands the company is pushing ahead with its projects.

“Things are as they were nearly 18 months ago,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said. “The freeze is on the manufacturing side. The Cambridge stuff, the R&D, that’s unchanged.”

While Johansson’s comments were seen as a bombshell in some quarters, they are a continuation of a position AstraZeneca adopted last year. Back then, CEO Pascal Soriot told the Financial Times AstraZeneca was holding off on new investments in U.K. manufacturing until there was clarity over the future regulatory regime and relationship to the EU.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

May 15, 2022

Novo Nordisk and Flagship Pioneering announce a strategic collaboration to create a portfolio of transformational medicines

Life sciences

The companies will explore opportunities to apply Flagship’s innovative bioplatforms – an ecosystem that currently comprises 41 companies – to scientific challenges in disease areas within cardiometabolic and rare diseases and initiate research programmes based on these.

May 15, 2022

BD, Babson set sights on bringing simple blood collection into the home

Life sciences

BD is expanding its long-running partnership with the blood collection company Babson Diagnostics. The two companies have been working together since 2019 on a device that can gather small volumes of blood from the capillaries in the fingertip without requiring any specialized training, and beginning with a focus on supporting primary care in retail settings.

May 15, 2022

CSL’s $11.7B Vifor buy, 2021’s biggest biopharma M&A deal, hits antitrust delay

Life sciences

Wednesday, Australian biotech CSL said (PDF) the regulatory review of its $11.7 billion acquisition of Switzerland’s Vifor Pharma will take “a few more months,” suggesting it won’t be able to close the transaction by June 2022 as previously expected.