Pfizer U.S. research jobs jeopardized by promises to UK for merger

NEW YORK — Employees at Pfizer’s U.S. research centers, such as the La Jolla, California site that specializes in cancer drugs, may want to dust off their resumes if the company’s proposed acquisition of the UK’s AstraZeneca comes to fruition.

Pfizer said on Friday that it was determined to reach a deal that would restore its status as the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company despite AstraZeneca’s rejection of its latest cash and stock offer of $106 billion.

To reassure the British government about its proposal, Pfizer has promised the combined company would keep 20 percent of its research and development workforce in the country. It also vowed to complete construction of a research center planned by AstraZeneca in Cambridge, England and retain a manufacturing plan in Macclesfield.

Since the deal would give Pfizer control of AstraZeneca’s extensive and promising portfolio of oncology drugs in development, Pfizer’s own cancer and vaccine research center near San Diego could face the chopping block.

Pfizer declined to comment on where any job cuts might come from. The company would not disclose how many people work at the La Jolla facility or other U.S. research centers.

Pfizer’s 25-acre La Jolla campus includes five buildings totaling more than 500,000 square feet, with specialized laboratories and equipment.

Pfizer spent $6.68 billion on research and development in 2013, down from an R&D budget of $7.48 billion in 2012. At its height following the 2009 acquisition of Wyeth, R&D expenses were about $11 billion.

With Pfizer’s promise to protect the UK research, jobs at AstraZeneca’s oncology and neuroscience research centers near Boston and its MedImmune cancer research and development operation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, could also come under the cost-cutting knife.

Source: Reuters

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