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AstraZeneca suspends UK investments

October 15, 2018

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has suspended its investments in Britain due to a lack of clarity over the UK's departure from the EU. The firm said uncertainty over Brexit had already cost it a lot of money.

AstraZeneca logo on a facade
Image: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images

AstraZeneca's non-executive chairman, Leif Johansson, told France's Le Monde the pharmaceutical company had halted investments in the UK as British Prime Minister Theresa May faced growing pressure Monday to rethink her plan for leaving the EU after Brexit talks reached a standoff on the weekend over arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.

"If a transition deal does not make clear what will happen in the future, AstraZeneca will maintain its decision not to invest," Le Monde quoted Johansson as saying in an interview.

"A Brexit agreement will need to ensure that Britain does not become an isolated island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," Johansson added.

'No benefits involved'

AstraZeneca has already spent £40 million ($53 million, €46 million) stockpiling medicines in the UK and continental Europe to prevent supply disruptions, if the two sides fail to reach a withdrawal agreement.

More than 2,600 drugs have some part of their manufacturing carried out in Britain. The UK exports some 45 million medical packs to EU nations each month.

About 37 million packs flow to Britain from the EU, industry figures show.

"In business, uncertainty often forces you to make decisions," Johansson said. "But what is frustrating is to have to do so when the existing system works very well — this is costing us money and brings no benefit."

hg/jd (Reuters, AP)