Pfizer to create 1,500 jobs at R&D site in Kent

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In one of the biggest single research and development investments into the UK, around 1,500 new jobs are to be created by an expansion of Pfizer's drugs research facility in Sandwich, Kent.

The US pharmaceuticals giant is planning to invest between pounds 100m and pounds 150m, including financial assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Pfizer already employs 3,500 people at the Sandwich site, which specialises in human and animal drug research. Capitalised at $97bn (pounds 59bn), it is the world's sixth-largest drugs group, employing 47,000 people world-wide.

Its new investment programme, to be unveiled today by the DTI and Pfizer, will be used to expand Pfizer's human medicine research.

Pfizer is a leading force in cardiovascular medicine, with drugs including Istin and Cardura, and is regularly ranked alongside Glaxo Wellcome and Merck as one of the world's best run drug companies.

Pfizer's decision will come a major boost to Government's inward investment programme, which was rocked by Toyota's decision this week to open a new car plant in France rather than in the UK.

That news followed a strong run of investments by foreign companies into the UK in 1996 under the Conservative government, including the creation of more than 6000 jobs in Wales by Lucky Goldstar, the Korean consumer electronics group.

The government's backing for Pfizer will be seen as further evidence of the government's commitment to supporting science and technology in the UK. It follows the decision by Microsoft, the US computer group to make a pounds 50m investment in a new plant in Cambridgeshire this summer.