Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Pfizer takeover of AstraZeneca will delay new drugs, says Pascal Soriot

Rebuff: Pascal Soriot
Rebuff: Pascal Soriot

Plans by US drugs giant Pfizer to take over rival AstraZeneca could delay the production of life-saving medicines, the boss of the UK company has told MPs.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said the mega-merger would prove a distraction from its scientific priorities as Astra delivered another sharp rebuff to the advances of the Viagra maker.

Pfizer wants to create a new pharmaceuticals giant that will be domiciled for tax purposes in the UK but will cut back on the current combined $12bn (£7bn) research budget of the two firms.

But Mr Soriot told the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee that it could create distraction and delays.

"What will we tell the person whose father died from lung cancer because one of our medicines was delayed because our companies were involved in saving taxes or saving costs?" he asked.

Mr Soriot said the re-domiciling of the newly-merged company to the UK – with its headquarters remaining in New York – would cause "substantial controversy" likely to result in delays.

Astra rejected Pfizer's £63bn takeover offer as inadequate, adding its latest presentation contained "no new proposal nor substantive new information".

Mr Soriot said AstraZeneca had been rebuilding its pipeline of drugs and that several promising drugs, including some to treat lung cancer, were on the point of becoming major money-earners.

He said the company was at a turning point in terms of rebuilding itself and its share value and that the offer failed to adequately reflect the true value of the "new AstraZeneca".

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