Pfizer Saves 350 Jobs

Four months after US drugs giant Pfizer announced it was pulling out of Kent, the company has now decided to keep a small presence at its site in Sandwich, preserving hundreds of jobs.

Three hundred and fifty workers will continue in its pharmaceutical sciences department, working on products which are already in the pipeline.

The company said it hopes that new investors will be attracted to join them at the site now that it has pledged to maintain a presence there.

In February, Pfizer announced that it would be closing its research and development facility in the town within two years, with the loss of 2,400 jobs. But in a statement last night it said it had "..determined that retaining a portion of its pharmaceutical sciences operation at Sandwich presents the best solution at this time for Pfizer's business.''

The rest of the site will still shut as planned, and Pfizer production and staff numbers remaining at the site will be reviewed in a few years time.

Kent County Council has welcomed Pfizer's announcement to retain jobs in Sandwich and said the aim now was to secure further businesses at the site.

Paul Carter, Council Leader, and Chairman of the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force said: "Securing 350 jobs on site by Pfizer is a step in the right direction and is positive news.

"We must now work with Pfizer and their marketing agent CBRE to secure further investors and businesses on-site, and encourage inward investment and occupancy in a whole array of business activity."

While Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said "We are pleased with Pfizer's decision to retain part of its highly-skilled workforce on site.

"This decision will provide extra time for complex commercial negotiations with potential investors so that a long-term future can be secured for the site at Sandwich.''

When Pfizer announced the closure in Sandwich, medical experts said it was a ``devastating'' blow for British science, coming as the latest in a series of UK R&D job cuts as the industry moves to slash costs.

Pfizer has a history at Sandwich dating back more than 50 years and the Kent R&D site lays claim to some of the world's biggest medical discoveries, including blockbuster drug Viagra.