RSC on AstraZeneca announcement

19 March 2013

Following the announcement yesterday of the planned closure of the AstraZeneca R&D facility in the north-west, the Royal Society of Chemistry is to offer careers advice and guidance to members likely to be affected.

The RSC regrets that the decision by AstraZeneca will impact about 100 of its members, as the company reduces the site in Cheshire in favour of a new facility to be established in Cambridge.

"It is another major sign telling us that the drugs discovery sector is rapidly reshaping and contracting" said the RSC chief executive, Dr Robert Parker. "To our regret, it cuts many jobs, causing insecurity and disruption amongst those people affected. At the same time, however, it points the way to a possible future shape of the British pharmaceutical industry, which has been experiencing so much erosion in the past few years.

"For the sake of the industry in Britain, and the people still working in it, we have now to adapt, in order that the country retains its leadership in the field

"This is a crucial time for the UK. The conditions are still right for strategic remodelling of our drugs industry to bring benefits to the UK economy. 

"The RSC has for a while been recommending the creation of therapeutic centres of excellence, as part of a wider strategy, that would work in partnership with industry to deliver high-quality medicines in areas  such as infection, dementia, diabetes, all of which have been particularly hard-hit by recent reductions in the UK drug discovery capabilities. 

"With genuine support, we can retain and develop world-class talent in drug discovery and re-establish the UK as the location of choice for investment by both business and charity sectors."

Dr Simon Campbell, CBE FRS, former senior vice-president for worldwide discovery at Pfizer said today: "We need to respond now to the significant deterioration we have witnessed over the last few years in the pharmaceuticals sector.  If we fail to do so, it will result in an irrevocable atrophy of the UK's world-leading expertise in drug discovery, jeopardising a major source of UK wealth and employment."

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