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Former MP and Labour leadership candidate joins Bristol Myers Squibb

Published on 20/08/20 at 11:36am
Photo by Chris McAndrew

Owen Smith, the former Labour MP and leadership candidate, has joined Bristol Myers Squibb as its UK Government Relations Director. 

Smith served as the MP for Pontypridd in Wales from 2010 until 2019, and did not stand for re-election in last December’s election. He was appointed the Secretary of State for Wales in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet in 2012, and then later the Shadow Secretary of State of Work and Pensions under Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He would later challenge Corbyn in a leadership election and lost the contest by 61.8% to 38.2% of the vote from members of the Labour party. He re-joined the shadow cabinet in 2017 as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland but was later sacked.

Smith previously held roles in the pharmaceutical industry. He became a lobbyist for Pfizer in 2005, and endorsed a company-backed report offering NHS patients easier access to private healthcare. This led to accusations in his political career that he was an advocate for privatising the NHS. Smith also oversaw a deal where the company appointed Alliance-Unichem as its sole distributor in Britain which bypassed wholesalers and removed opportunities for cost cutting competition.

Smith later became Amgen’s chief UK lobbyist, in charge of corporate affairs, corporate and internal communications and public affairs. While Smith was employed by Amgen, the company was battling an investigation into its anaemia drug Aranesp, resulting in a $762 million fine.

Conor Kavanagh

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