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AstraZeneca halts UK investments due to Brexit - Le Monde

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AstraZeneca has suspended investments in Britain due to the lack of clarity over the country's departure from the European Union, the pharmaceutical firm's non-executive chairman Leif Johansson told France's Le Monde newspaper.

[PARIS] AstraZeneca has suspended investments in Britain due to the lack of clarity over the country's departure from the European Union, the pharmaceutical firm's non-executive chairman Leif Johansson told France's Le Monde newspaper.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was facing growing pressure on Monday to rethink her plan for leaving the EU after Brexit talks reached a stand-off at the weekend over arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.

"If a transition deal does not make clear what will happen in the future, we will maintain our decision not to invest," Le Monde quoted Mr 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," he added.

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AstraZeneca has already spent £40 million (S$72.2 million) stockpiling medicines in Britain and continental Europe to prevent supply disruptions if the two sides fail to reach a withdrawal agreement.

Some pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca have warned of medicine shortages in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit.

More than 2,600 drugs have some part of their manufacturing carried out in Britain. Britain exports some 45 million medical packs to EU countries each month, industry figures show, while 37 million flow to Britain from the EU.

France's largest drugmaker Sanofi said in August it would increase medicine stockpiles in Britain, echoing moves made by GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Novartis .

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

REUTERS