Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) will close its research and development (R&D) facility in Sandwich, Kent, England, which presently employs 2,400 people, the “majority” of which would be made redundant over the next two years.

However, the company added that it might transfer several hundred positions to other sites or other companies doing work for Pfizer.

The Sandwich site performs research and development on allergy and respiratory drugs.

Pfizer's Ruth McKernan, who heads the site, said it had played an important role in the discovery and development of medicines and has brought many life-saving treatments to patients.

This is yet more bad news for Britain, which is already facing huge job cuts in the public sector due to government spending cuts.

Conservative MP for South Thanet Laura Sandys said it was a “body blow” for the fragile economy in east Kent and a “big shock” to the community.

Business Secretary Vince Cable called Pfizer’s decision extremely disappointing.

He noted that the company has been clear that this decision was part of its global program of change and not based on a judgment of the UK as a location for pharmaceutical research.

Cable added that he will be meeting with Pfizer executives and others as a matter of urgency to discuss innovative ideas for continuing R&D activities in this very well-equipped facility.

Pfizer had previously shut down its manufacturing operations in Sandwich in 2007.