A week after Pfizer's decision to close its Sandwich plant AstraZeneca says it will outsource more to India and China

Anglo-Swedish drug firm AstraZeneca has today reiterated that it will outsource drug manufacturing ’where there is a sound business case.’

The company issued a statement after the publication today of an interview with David Smith, AstraZeneca’s executive vice-president of operations, in The Times. The newspaper reported that the company would cease and fully outsource all drug manufacturing operations within the next ten years. 

AstraZeneca quickly refuted the report claiming that some of Smith’s comments had been misinterpreted. But the firm confirmed that part of its global view was to look more seriously at outsourcing, and that it had particular interest in opportunities in India and China. 

This is likely to be seen as ominous for UK manufacturing and comes just one week after the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, revealed its decision to close its only remaining UK manufacturing plant at Sandwich in Kent, resulting in the loss of 420 jobs over the next two years.

Earlier this year, AstraZeneca announced its intention to cut 3300 manufacturing jobs worldwide. But Joan Pitt, an AstraZeneca spokeswoman, told Chemistry World  that this was not a signal that the company sought to move away from UK-based manufacturing. 

Richard Ley, a spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, told Chemistry World  that there is increasing global competition for manufacturing. He warned that in the long term drug research may follow manufacturing out of the UK.

’A great deal of drug manufacturing is high-tech, so it may make more sense for companies to relocate R&D to the same place in order to have scientists working alongside each other,’ Ley said. 

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