Plans by US drugs giant Pfizer to take over rival AstraZeneca could delay the production of life-saving medicines, the boss of the UK company told MPs .
Chief executive Pascal Soriot said the mega-merger would prove a distraction from its scientific priorities as Astra delivered another sharp rebuff to the advances of the Viagra maker.
The company described the latest announcement outlining the US company’s proposals directly to its shareholders as “opportunistic”.
Pfizer wants to create a new pharmaceuticals giant that will be domiciled for tax purposes in the UK but will cut back on the current combined US$12bn (£7bn) research budget of the two firms.
But Mr Soriot told the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee that it would create “a distraction that would potentially delay some of our projects”.
“What will we tell the person whose father died from lung cancer because one of our medicines was delayed because our companies were involved in saving taxes or saving costs?,” he said.
Mr Soriot said the re-domiciling of the newly-merged company to the UK – which Pfizer has said would still see its headquarters remain in New York - would cause “substantial controversy” likely to result in delays.
It came as the US firm turned up the pressure on Astra, outlining its proposals directly to the UK company’s shareholders in a presentation.