Reaction to AstraZeneca's announcement that some 7,300 jobs would be axed by the end of 2014 has continued, and it seems that the firm's UK research staff will be reduced by 250-350 posts.
The company has not given many specifics regarding the geographical split of the cuts, although the Sodertalje site in Sweden is likely to see a reduction of 1,100-1200 employees. As for the UK, Allan Black, national offer for the GMB trade union, said AstraZeneca "told me that between 250 and 350 R&D jobs will be lost at the Alderley Park site and some further backroom jobs will be lost at some of the other locations".
The GMB and other unions will meet with AstraZeneca to discuss the announcement and the prospects for jobs across all sites in the UK, he added. Mr Black concluded by claiming "this is very bad news [as] these cutting-edge R&D jobs are both well paid and essential for a thriving UK economy".
The view that the AstraZeneca announcement is a sign the UK life sciences industry is at risk "is not the case", according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Rather it notes that the global restructuring "is designed to improve productivity and strengthen the company’s commercial, operations and R&D capabilities".
The ABPI adds that "AstraZeneca has a long history of investment as a big employer and contributor to the economy as well as the progress of innovation in life sciences. That will continue".
The association goes on to say that the pharma sector has "moved beyond purchaser and seller transactional relationships to a more integrated partnership model". It adds that "innovative research companies large, medium and small are working closer together, just as industry is partnering more closely with the NHS, charities and academia".
The industry has had to modernise, the ABPI states, claiming that the government "continues to encourage investment and growth in the life sciences sector". However, it needs to do "all it can to incentivise investment – recent initiatives like the patent box have been positive, but they must follow through" and the government needs to design "a pricing scheme that values innovation and encourages R&D to take place in the UK".
The ABPI concluded by saying "the UK remains a global leader in science and healthcare and huge levels of R&D investment continue to take place".