LONDON May 12 Pfizer's research head
pressed the case for combining with AstraZeneca on
Monday in the latest stage of a campaign by the U.S. drugmaker
to counter critics of its proposed $106 billion deal.
Mikael Dolsten said he had been through five different
mergers and acquisitions and denied such big transactions
disrupted drug research.
"If you keep your sense of curiosity and an open mind, you
can learn tremendously," he said in a video posted on the
"We must stay laser-focused on our important projects. And
that's, of course, true for Pfizer scientists and AZ scientists
and will be true also if we can make a potential combination
British lawmakers are due to quiz Dolsten's boss, Pfizer
Chief Executive Ian Read, on May 13 and 14 about his plans to
acquire Britain's second-biggest pharmaceuticals business. They
will also interrogate AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot.
Buying AstraZeneca would be the largest foreign takeover of
a British firm. Pfizer's approach has been rejected by
AstraZeneca and the idea of a merger is opposed by many
scientists and some politicians who fear it would damage the
country's science base.
Dolsten said there was "a really great fit" with the
products that AstraZeneca had in its portfolio, with potential
for combining drugs in areas such as lung cancer to offer much
more effective treatments.
Pfizer has given a five-year commitment to complete
AstraZeneca's new research centre in Cambridge, retain a factory
in the northwestern English town of Macclesfield and put a fifth
of its research staff in Britain if the deal goes ahead.
But the U.S. firm has also said it could adjust those
promises if circumstances change "significantly", prompting
demands for more watertight pledges.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday he had made
"very good progress" in securing guarantees from Pfizer.
However, Dolsten's remarks contained no new pledges on
preserving British science jobs.
Pfizer's Read also laid out the case for a merger in videos
posted by the U.S. group on Saturday, when he said strong
British research was a key reason for the deal.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Jason Neely)