Sweden’s prime minister has said that a Pfizer takeover of AstraZeneca could slash jobs, undermine research, and offer little value for money for Swedish citizens whose taxes have been invested in the life sciences.
“We’ve devoted huge resources to research in the life sciences and other areas that have been very important to this company,” Reinfeldt told the TT news agency on Thursday. Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and the remaining pharmaceutical companies in Sweden have also told the government that they need its continued support.
“We have negative experiences from Pharmacia (which US firm Pfizer acquired in 2002). The prospectus detailed that it would mean jobs and investments in Sweden which we don’t think they lived up to,” Fredrik Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.
Nilsson explained that AstraZeneca’s fate will ultimately be decided by its investment fund shareholders.
“Sweden’s a bay in the global sea of capital. Funds own a lot in the global market and the fund managers are counting on a return,” she said. “Three to four big funds are the biggest AstraZeneca owners and they’ll have to (give in). They can’t go against the interests of the fund investors.”
At present, Sweden has one of three remaining AstraZeneca research sites, in Mölndal in western Sweden. It was once the home to an an independent drug company, in turn bought up by Astra, where researchers developed the heart-burn drug Lozec.
AstraZeneca research sites in Lund and Södertälje have already closed down, a fate shared by much of Sweden’s once-proud pharmaceutical industry.
Fredrik Reinfeldt explained on Thursday that his government was trying to divine Pfizer’s intentions.
“We have many questions about what this set-up is aimed at and the type of relationships on offer,” he said.
Of particular concern is the fact that Sweden does not feature on the Pfizer map of research considerations in the case of a successful merger.
“This causes the greatest concern. We should also remember that Sweden stands out as one of the countries with the highest share of GDP spent on research, so it can’t really be that, but there are presumably other considerations,” Reinfeldt said.