A number of newspapers reported that British Biotech has stopped research into its pancreatitis drug, Zacutex. The news came after the controversy over Dr Andrew Millar, former head of clinical trails at the company. Millar was sacked and sued for breach of contract after he told shareholders that he doubted the efficacy of Zacutex. The Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology has called for British Biotech to drop the lawsuit against Millar.
Meanwhile, business commentators are critical of the enormous salaries enjoyed by biotechnology chiefs. SmithKline Beecham chief executive, Jan Leschly - who received a total remuneration of £90 million last year - was first in the firing line. Next was Glaxo Wellcome chairman, Sir Richard Sykes, who took home £3.63 million last year.
An article in the Times, however, noted that large salaries are the order of the day in the biotech industry. Pfizer, Marck and Zeneca all have well-remunerated executives. SmithKline Beecham will give its staff a paid day off to work with local charities. The charity day, to mark the company's 10th birthday, will involved all SB staff, including the chief executive, Jan Leschly.