Fear of Pfizer-AstraZeneca job cuts voiced by U.S. lawmakers

Members of the U.S. Congress from Maryland and Massachusetts expressed concern on Saturday that thousands of jobs in their districts could be at risk if U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc completes a buyout of UK-based AstraZeneca Plc .

"The scale of this is really causing people to pay attention. I'm really concerned about it," said Democratic Representative John Delaney, whose Maryland district includes a 3,000-worker facility of AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit.

His remarks came as Pfizer tried to allay worries in the United States and Britain about layoffs possibly resulting from its $106-billion bid for its UK rival, in what would be the largest-ever foreign takeover of a British company.

AstraZeneca so far has spurned Pfizer, which has a history of big job cuts after past acquisitions. The U.S. company was considering its next move, possibly a sweetened offer.

Representative Delaney said in an interview: "We encourage Pfizer to look hard at the MedImmune asset and hopefully get comfortable that this is something they'd want to keep here."

Democratic Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark said AstraZeneca has hundreds of jobs in her Boston-area district.

"I am working to ensure that these good jobs are retained and that our communities can continue to count on a good corporate neighbor," she told Reuters in an email.

Pfizer understands and appreciates the concerns of the members of Congress, company spokesman MacKay Jimeson said in an email.

"We believe a potential combination with AstraZeneca would build a stronger company by bringing together our assets, people and scientific expertise," Jimeson said.

The governors of Maryland and Delaware on Thursday sent a letter to Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read "expressing deep concerns" about the impact of the deal on jobs, as well as Pfizer's plan to relocate its corporate base to Britain to lower its taxes. AstraZeneca employs 2,600 people in Delaware, the letter said.

Britain's No. 2 drugmaker, AstraZeneca has employees in the districts of more than a dozen members of Congress, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

(Additional Ben Hirschler in London; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Marguerita Choy)