Novartis closure continues a worrying trend in UK pharmaceutical industry

07 November 2013

The Royal Society of Chemistry is concerned by the news that pharmaceuticals company Novartis has started talks on closing its research unit in Horsham, West Sussex, with the possible loss of more than 370 jobs.

Robert Parker, Royal Society of Chemistry chief executive, said this morning: "Our concerns are two-fold. 

"Firstly we are investigating how, and when, our members at the unit might be affected so we can arrange individual careers consultations and provide other careers information to support them.

"Secondly we are worried about the pattern of drugs company closures in the UK, this latest development following closures at AstraZeneca, in spring this year, and at Pfizer three years ago."

Dr Parker said that the British chemistry community is resting its hopes on the current reshaping of the UK pharmaceuticals industry which has been developing a different profile since 2011 when Pfizer shut its large Kent facility.

"If the Novartis site does indeed close," added Dr Parker, "it will be essential that the skills and experience of the people employed there are not lost to the industry and to the country.

"With sound support and strategic thinking the UK pharmaceuticals industry can remain at the forefront internationally.  

"Although we cannot prevent the Novartis closure we can press for the talent there to be redeployed in order to avoid atrophy of our national expertise in drugs research and development.  

"We must not put at risk the foundation of Britain's pharmaceuticals prowess. If we miss opportunities now, then the country will regret it severely in the months and years ahead." 

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