Grudges galore

Published: Thursday 31 August 1995

-- (Credit: Malay Karmakar)BIOTECHNOLOGY firms in Britain are extremely sore with the ministry of health. The statement issued by the new secretary of state for health, Stephen Dorrell, criticising the biotech companies' efforts to secure special tax treatment, has broken the morale of the cash- strapped research organisations and has left them high and dry.

Dorrell has categorically stated that he is not in favour of tax shelters for the biotech firms, even though his ministry officially sponsors and supports the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industries. The department of health, according to him, should restrict its funding to "encouraging high technology investment" in the area.

"This is very discouraging," says Paul Haycock, deputy chairperson of the Biotechnology Industry Association. He says that the tax system discriminates against the industry because of the time taken, ranging from 5 to 10 years, to develop a new medicine.

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