Delaware and Maryland governors want answers from Pfizer

(File/NewsWorks)

(File/NewsWorks)

Two state leaders want to know the impact that Pfizer’s proposed takeover of AstraZeneca could have on workers.

Pfizer’s efforts to subsume AstraZeneca have so far been rebuffed, but if some sort of merger deal is on the table, the governors of Delaware and Maryland want more information on how such a deal would impact their states.

AstraZeneca employs approximately 2,600 people in Delaware and 3,100 in Maryland, so any change in the company’s workforce is bound to have a noticeable impact.

“We are very concerned by Pfizer, Inc.’s efforts to acquire AstraZeneca,” said Del. Gov. Jack Markell and Md. Gov. Marton O’Malley in a joint letter to Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO Ian Read.

The concern about the future of AstraZeneca employees in a Pfizer takeover stems from Read’s assurances to British Prime Minister David Cameron that jobs will continue to exist for workers in the UK.

“Despite our requests, we have received no corresponding assurances about retaining jobs and research and development in our states,” the two governors wrote.

AstraZeneca is already in the process of slimming down its Delaware operations.

As noted by NewsWorks content partner Delaware Business Daily, the company’s workforce is expected to drop to about 2,000 employees at the end of a process that is expected to include the sale of its South Campus in North Wilmington to JPMorgan Chase.

The governors’ letter poses the following questions to Read:

1. How many jobs in Maryland and Delaware do you estimate will potentially be eliminated or relocated outside of our states or the United States if Pfizer acquires AstraZeneca?

 2. As you have done in the United Kingdom, what binding commitments can Pfizer make to continued investment in Maryland and Delaware? What would be the level of such investment?

 3. What commitments can you make regarding AstraZeneca’s North American headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware; its research and development center in Gaithersburg, Maryland; its manufacturing facility in Newark, Delaware; or any other facilities?

 4. Media reports have noted Pfizer’s intent to merge the assets and potentially then split off separate businesses or business units. What are Pfizer’s intentions in this respect, and what are the details, timeline, and likely impacts on our states?

 5. What binding commitments can Pfizer provide regarding maintaining its investment in the research and discovery of biopharmaceutical products based on its proposed acquisition of AstraZeneca? What binding commitments can you make to maintain the pace of innovation?

 6. What other commitments can Pfizer make regarding the effect of the transaction on jobs in the United States in general, and in Maryland and Delaware specifically?

George Chressanthis, a professor at Temple University who previously worked at AstraZeneca, told NewsWorks last month that his former colleagues in Delaware stand to lose out should the pharmaceutical giants merge.

“My guess is that many of those positions would probably be eliminated,” Chressanthis said.

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Disclosure: AstraZeneca supports WHYY’s The Pulse.

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