AstraZeneca stares down protesters' last-ditch effort to derail new HQ

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot

A small army of protesters united by a diverse set of causes has mobilized in a last-ditch effort to throw up a roadblock to AstraZeneca's ($AZN) ambitious plans to build a sprawling new corporate headquarters and research center in Cambridge, U.K. But the angry backlash against its plans appears to have little chance of delaying the centerpiece project in the pharma giant's big comeback effort.

Animal rights activists have hit out against the pharma giant's planned use of animals in drug research (a requirement for any company involved in preclinical studies), environmentalists are upset about the "chemical weapons" and other agents involved and economists have inveighed against the relocation of jobs in the country.

United Front 4 Animals, National Anti-Vivisection Society, Cambridge Friends of the Earth and National Operation Anti-Vivisection have all registered their opposition, reports Insider Media, a business news outlet. But local officials say they're set to put their final stamp of approval on the new biomedical campus, with 644,000 square feet of new construction in the blueprints.

AstraZeneca has so far shrugged off the claims and protests, saying that they're not planning to do anything you might expect at a site like this, and that they will "pose no risk to public safety," according to Cambridge News.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has made this $500 million project central to his determined effort to spur a renaissance at the pharma giant, which until recently was ridiculed for one of the worst pipeline in the industry. More recently, the company has earned considerable respect for its work in immuno-oncology.

- here's the report from Insider Media
- here's the story from Cambridge News