Inventor criticises closure of drug site

The closure of a state-of-the-art centre where Viagra was invented will significantly compromise the UK’s status as a centre of excellence for pharmaceutical research, said one of the inventors of the drug.

Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugs company, announced last week it was to close its centre in Sandwich, Kent, within two years in a move that will see most of the site’s 2,400 staff lose their jobs.

The move by Pfizer has fanned fears that the UK is losing its position as a centre of excellence in drugs research and follows the announcement of job cuts at drugs giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in recent years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Simon Campbell, previously a senior executive at Pfizer and a key member of the team that developed Viagra, slammed the decision and said the plant must not be allowed to lie idle.

He said: “It is difficult to understand the closure of Sandwich, which was the most productive research site in the world.

“The position of the UK as a centre of excellence for pharmaceutical research has been significantly compromised.

“Capital investment of more than $1bn (£621.2m) has been made at Sandwich and such state-of-the-art facilities cannot simply lie idle.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Sandwich site is the European hub of Pfizer’s global research and development division, but has already been hit with redundancies in recent years. Pfizer closed its manufacturing operations at the site in 2007.

It covers allergy and respiratory research and development – an area Pfizer plans to pull out of – although the site has a history of award winning discoveries.

As well as developing erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra, for which the group received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the Sandwich site also developed Celsentri, the first oral class of HIV treatment in more than a decade, life-saving anti-fungal treatments Diflucan and Vfend and heart disease drugs Istin and Cardura.