MPs expressed their disappointment this week over the collapse of the planned Pounds 100 billion merger between pharmaceutical firms Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham and have criticised the judgement of senior executives in both firms.
In evidence given to MPs on the House of Commons science and technology committee both firms said that had the merger gone ahead, and savings in administration been channelled to scientific research, the benefits would have been felt by the whole of the United Kingdom science base.
The MPs concluded the creation of such an R&D powerhouse, able to compete across the world, and conducting the bulk of its research in the UK, would have sent out important signals about the quality of the national science base. Their report says: "An opportunity to create a national champion with R&D at its heart has been lost."
Both firms have strong links with universities. According to evidence given to the committee, Glaxo spends over Pounds 16 million annually on basic research in universities, mostly in the UK. The firm also provides training for 260 PhD students in 56 universities and over the past ten years has endowed 11 professorships at a cost of Pounds 1 million each. SKB trains 0 students and spends about Pounds 7 million on research in the UK.