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Pfizer is shuttering another U.K. R&D outpost, ditching 120 jobs

December 7, 2015
Life sciences

Pfizer, whose 2011 sale of a huge R&D site in the U.K. has hardly been forgotten there, is planning to shut down another research center in the country, a move that will cost about 120 jobs.

The company is closing down its Neusentis research unit near Cambridge, a discovery and development operation with a particular focus on treatments for pain. Derek Lowe first reported the news on his blog, hosted by Science, and Pfizer later issued a statement confirming the closure and pointing out that its decision follows the recent consolidation of its neuroscience and pain R&D operations. From now on, the company will focus its research efforts on neurodegenerative disease and neuropsychiatric disorders, Pfizer said.

“Decisions that impact colleagues are never easy, and a great deal of time and effort went into minimizing the impact of this proposal on our workforce,” the company said, adding that it will maintain about 2,500 employees in the U.K. after the Neusentis closure.

The move comes about four years after Pfizer’s decision to back away from a sprawling research campus in Sandwich, U.K., displacing about 2,400 jobs and drawing the ire of local lawmakers and press. The Sandwich closure bubbled up last year as Pfizer fought to acquire AstraZeneca in a multibillion-dollar deal, brought back to light as officials questioned the company’s stated commitments to the value of U.K. science.

Pfizer has since shifted its attentions to the north, signing an agreement last month to merge with the Irish-headquartered Allergan in a deal valued at about $160 billion. As was the case in its quest for AstraZeneca, Pfizer is largely concerned with the tax breaks it would get by shifting its headquarters outside of the U.S. through a process called inversion, the prospect of which has sparked backlash among politicians in the company’s home country.

The Allergan merger, which Pfizer expects to close in the middle of next year, will bring about roughly $2 billion in cuts by year three, the company said, with about one-third coming from R&D and most of the rest tied to selling and general expenses.

By Damian Garde

Source: Fierce Biotech

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