In an attempt to smooth relations with the government, Pfizer CEO Read wrote to Cameron, promising to complete a substantial new research center planned by AstraZeneca in Cambridge and retain a manufacturing plant in Macclesfield.
The Cambridge site, in particular, is viewed as important to the development of the so-called "golden triangle" of Britain's life sciences industry, spanning Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Read also said that 20 percent of the enlarged group's research and development workforce would be in Britain, which a Pfizer spokesman said would represent a "very substantial" increase in its research efforts in the country.
"We make these commitments for a minimum of five years, recognizing our ability, consistent with our fiduciary duties, to adjust these obligations should circumstances significantly change," Read added in a letter to Cameron.
Science minister David Willetts said Pfizer had moved a long way in its commitments to British science and research, but the opposition Labour party was scathing about the potential deal.
"Pfizer has a very poor record on previous acquisitions. Do we really want a jewel in the crown of British industry, our second biggest pharmaceutical firm, to basically be seen as an instrument of tax planning?" said business spokesman Chuka Umunna.
Pfizer's reputation is under a cloud in Britain following a decision three years ago to shut most of its research work at a large R&D center in Sandwich, southern England, where Viagra was invented, with the loss of nearly 2,000 jobs.Here's what I suggest to the subjects of the United Kingdom and their politicians: Don't believe Pfizer CEOs when they say they won't cut jobs to save money. What proof do we have that Pfizer management would go against their now 10 year record of job cuts?
In fact, I would ask Mr. Read or any current Pfizer CEO to post a bond (in an amount of say, 10% of their personal net worth) to guarantee any employment-related promises -- because I don't believe them.