George Freeman calls for long-term R&D agreement with Pfizer/AstraZeneca

Speaking in the House of Commons on the bid from Pfizer for AstraZeneca, George Freeman calls on the Government to secure a long-term, 10-year R and D agreement with Pfizer/AstraZeneca to ensure long term research investment in the UK.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con): The life sciences and biopharma industry is in a period of transformation or restructuring worldwide, which is why there has been such strong support for the UK’s life science strategy and its groundbreaking steps to invest in genomics, the patent box, the catalyst fund and early access to innovative medicines. All those measures helped to ensure that Pfizer and AstraZeneca, when they closed their old plants, moved to Cambridge, England, not Cambridge, Massachusetts. May I suggest that rather than embrace the Opposition’s opportunistic calls for protectionist emergency legislation—the shadow Business Secretary dismissed such a step in 2012—we should instead seek to enter into a long-term, 10-year, R and D agreement with Pfizer-AstraZeneca based on accelerating the measures that we have put in place, which will show that we are in favour of business coming to the UK through incentives, not penal legislation?

Vince Cable: I think that is a very good statement of where we are. We are indeed trying to encourage business. We are looking 10 years ahead—that is the whole point of the industrial strategy and indeed why it is successful and why business welcomes it. To use my hon. Friend’s word, there is no question of protectionism in this area.

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