Pfizer CEO: R&D spend of new group would fall after Astra deal

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read said on Tuesday he expected the combined research expenditure of the merged drugmaker would be lower than that of the two separate companies following a takeover of drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Read told a panel of British lawmakers that one of the drivers of his proposed deal was to increase efficiency in order to keep both firms competitive in an increasingly tough marketplace.

The U.S. drugmaker has stirred up a political storm with its $106 billion plan to acquire AstraZeneca, which has been rebuffed by the smaller British company.

The deal would be the largest foreign takeover of a British firm and is opposed by many scientists, trade unions and politicians who fear for British science jobs given Pfizer's track record of cost cutting after past acquisitions.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Kate Holton)