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Drug giant Pfizer to pull out of Kent

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Pfizer in Sandwich
Pfizer in Sandwich

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is to pull out of Kent with the loss of 2,400 jobs.

In what will be a devastating blow to the East Kent and wider Kent economy, the US-based company has announced its intention to quit the world-renowned research site at Sandwich after more than 50 years.

The shock decision is part of a global programme of changes which it says will accelerate Pfizer's long-term research and development strategy.

As part of this global strategy Pfizer is planning to exit certain therapeutic areas, including Allergy & Respiratory, which is based at Sandwich.

Pfizer said that most of the 2,400 jobs would be made redundant over the next two years, although some might be transferred to other sites.

Dr Ruth McKernan, Senior Vice President and Site Head at Sandwich said: "It is with a deep sense of sadness that we announce our proposal to exit our site in Sandwich, Kent.

"It has played an important role in the discovery and development of medicines and has brought many life-saving treatments to patients.

"Sandwich has an extremely talented workforce with a proud and rich history in science research and development.

"This decision is no reflection on the site, the workforce or the operating environment in the UK.

"We recognise that this is a difficult time for colleagues and the community and our priority now, and over the coming weeks and months, is to support our people through this process.

"It is hoped that we can retain this proud R&D heritage through strategic partnerships in the future."

Canterbury and Whitstable MP Julian Brazier reacted to the news with shock.

He said: "It's extremely bad news for the area and the employees.

"The loss of the production plant at Sandwich a few years was the first nail in the coffin.

"Previous governments have failed to support the company by closing research facilities like the one developed by Pfizer at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital.

"But, we have to pull something from the ashes. These are some of the best research facilities in the country with some great staff working there.

"It's important to act quickly and although I've not spoken to them yet, I hope Kent University can see an opportunity with their own research to take advantage of the facilities on that site.

Paul Barrett, chairman of Canterbury4Business, added: "It's a huge body blow for the east Kent economy and a disaster for the staff and the many spin-off businesses associated with Pfizer."

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