Drug giants Novartis and Roche have threatened to quit the UK if rules around safety trials and National Hospital Service (NHS) drug pricing rules do not change.

The Swiss drug makers have since been approached by the UK Government in an attempt to patch up relationships with the pharmaceutical firms, who have threatened to move operations from Britain, following pressure from government ministers to sell cheaper products to the health service.

Novartis has 3,500 staff in the UK spread across nine sites while Roche has 1,500 workers.

A report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper cited Whitehall (government) documents that showed minutes of the meetings between ministers and the pharmaceutical producers.

John Melville, head of Roche UK, said his company’s profits had not only been eroded by the NHS price setting decision between the government and pharmaceutical industry but the weakening pound and Swiss Franc.

Both Roche and Novartis are headquartered in Switzerland.