It's a 'red herring', says Pfizer chief Ian Read after claims of drugs delays

Business Editor

Pfizer boss Ian Read hit back at claims from his opposite number at AstraZeneca last night, labelling as a "red herring" the threat of delays to breakthrough treatments if the drugs giant swallows the British firm in a record £63bn deal.

"In this integration, I frankly see no risk of delays for any important products for Pfizer or AstraZeneca. I'm afraid I think that's a real red herring," Mr Read told The Independent.

Hours earlier, giving evidence before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot cited hold-ups in drug-development projects as a key reason for resisting Pfizer's approaches.

Mr Read, who will today argue his case before the Science and Technology Committee before touring City shareholders, added: "We would do the integration in a way that the scientists of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer would say 'these are projects that need to be kept on time, need to be ringfenced, need resources', and I have no doubt we would not slow up any of this development."

The Scot admitted he had been stung by criticism of his company, which invented the Viagra pill in Britain, for having a ruthless reputation for slashing jobs and research spending.

"I'm not sure what awful reputation you are talking about. I have 80,000 employees who will tell you we have a great reputation. I am personally extremely proud of Pfizer. If you go into most parts of the world, Pfizer has a great reputation, so frankly, I am a little bemused by this awful reputation", he said.

There have been calls from the President of the Royal Society, professor Sir Paul Nurse, for Pfizer to extend beyond five years its pledge to keep at least 20 per cent of the combined companies' research and development workforce in Britain. But Mr Read is resistant to making bigger promises, arguing that drugs companies need to be measured on shorter-term performance.

"I would say part of the problem for pharmaceuticals, and the reason the pharmaceuticals industry has had a lack of productivity, is too long a period without being measured. I am saying I need to measure what is happening in five years. I need to see if there are signs of productivity, I need to see an ownership culture.

"If you are running your business and you told a salesman 'I am going to give you 10 years to perform', he is going to start working in the ninth year. So what you need to do to manage a business is you need to say, 'look, I am going to assess your performance on five-year intervals, your right to capital depends on how well I see you doing in a five-year period'.

"I fully expect us to be in the UK for a lot longer than that but from the point of view of how I manage the business – and all our research areas wherever we are – we review them on a five-year cycle."

Earlier, Pfizer claimed its rival faced a $14bn plunge in revenues, as drugs fall out of patent, if it remained independent. AstraZeneca said this was an "opportunistic attempt to acquire a transformed AstraZeneca, without reflecting the value of its exciting pipeline".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test