I noted this headline in the FT's emails this morning, and without ever actually reading the related article I have to say I fundamentally disagree with it:
First of all, most drug development takes place with substantial government support. In my opinion it does matter very much who gets that support: we need to know that those who are subsidised are accountable for the benefit that they receive. There is a greater chance of that in the case of a UK-based company.
Second, knowing that the benefits of any such activity will stay in the UK matters. Again, this is much more likely if a company is based in this country.
Thirdly, UK companies are more likely to employ UK staff. I know that the relationship will not be perfect, and that very clearly there are some UK companies that have been more than willing to embrace outsourcing, but I think that the correlation is real, and will certainly be of significance to employees. That matters. People drive innovation. Employees needs have to be considered on this issue.
Lastly, I have to say tax matters. US Companies aren't too good at paying tax in Europe right now. I want to see a return on the UK's investment in pharmaceutical companies, and don't believe that will happen with a US controlled company undertaking research here.
So, very definitely, ownership matters. Only the naive or neoliberals who are indifferent to the interests of the state argue otherwise.