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Innovation in the UK

Our medicines save and transform the lives of millions of people in the UK every year.

Pfizer has a long and proud history of being part of world class science in the UK. From being the first company to mass produce penicillin back in the 1950’s, to the discovery of new treatments in important areas of unmet medical need including heart disease, HIV and acute pain.

We invest time, knowledge and money, working alongside the best of British science to find and develop new medicines and vaccines. Today, in addition to our research centres in Cambridge and Sandwich, we are involved in hundreds of research collaborations and alliances. By partnering with scientists, academics and clinicians throughout the UK, we are working to find the new medicines and vaccines of the future.

Our research activities here span more than 60 years. Over the last decade we have invested almost £3billion in UK research to develop the medicines and vaccines of the future for debilitating conditions including pain, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

The drug development cycle

Discovering and developing new medicines is a slow and complex process involving many scientists, doctors and researchers.

On average, it takes over 12 years and more than £1.2bn to develop each new medicine. Moreover, for every 10-20 medicines identified in the lab, only 1 will ever reach patients - the others will fail along the way. However, research is a continual cycle and the knowledge and resources we gain from every piece of research we do, helps inform and drive the next generation of science.

See our infographic for more details of the processes involved in researching new medicines [PDF 1Mb]

We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our team of UK scientists, doctors and researchers.  People who invest years of their lives to find the medicines that could, one day, save yours.


In partnership with other academic researchers in Cambridge and across the globe, the team at Neusentis is working to change the lives of patients suffering from pain and other sensory disorders for which there are no existing therapies or cures. They also research auditory and visual disorders linked to ion channels defects and have a regenerative medicine portfolio which includes our first stem cell clinical study.

First established in 2008, the centre began life as a research unit dedicated to Regenerative Medicine; treatments which repair, replace or enhance biological function that has been lost for example due to congenital abnormalities, injury, disease or ageing.


For 60 years, Sandwich has been the home of Pfizer’s biggest research site in the UK. 

Part of the thriving Discovery Park site, Pfizer has played an important part in the development of a growing life sciences hub, including a range of smaller biotech companies and start-ups.

It also plays an important role in developing Pfizer’s future pipeline as the home of our Pharmaceutical Sciences team.

This team uses its specialist expertise to turn experimental new compounds into the liquid and solid dose medicines that can be used in clinical trials, and latterly given to patients more broadly.

The capabilities we have to do this at Sandwich are unique – it is the only site within Pfizer’s R&D network able to perform every step in the complex process of producing a new medicine.

What’s more, the site is home to Pfizer’s only fully automated Pilot Plant that manufactures medicines for use in Pfizer’s clinical trials worldwide.

Additionally, Sandwich hosts Pfizer’s Worldwide Safety and Regulatory (WSR) group. Working closely with colleagues in nearly every country across the world, this team creates the regulatory submissions needed for every medicine in Pfizer’s portfolio as well as monitoring patterns of adverse events reported by patients and reviewing safety information.


DCOM0011/Date of preparation: May 2015