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Volume 87 Issue 15 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 13, 2009

Pfizer Outlines R&D Structure

After merger with Wyeth, drug giant will have two research teams
Department: Business
Dolsten
Credit: Wyeth
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Dolsten
Credit: Wyeth
Mackay
Credit: Pfizer
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Mackay
Credit: Pfizer

BECAUSE PFIZER wants to hit the ground running when it completes its acquisition of Wyeth this year, it has already announced the structure that its substantial R&D operation will take. Building on the complementary strengths of the companies, Pfizer will form two research organizations supporting the combined company’s nine business areas.

Instead of having a single R&D unit spending its more-than-$10 billion annual research budget, the company will divide efforts into two distinct groups led by presidents reporting directly to CEO Jeffrey B. Kindler.

Pfizer’s current global R&D head, Martin Mackay, will lead PharmaTherapeutics Research Group, which is focused on small molecules. BioTherapeutics Research Group will concentrate on large molecules and vaccines under the direction of Wyeth’s current research president, Mikael Dolsten. It also will incorporate Pfizer’s entrepreneurial Biotherapeutics & Bioinnovation Center, headed by Corey Goodman.

“Creating two distinct, but complementary, research organizations, led by the top scientist from each company, will provide sharper focus, less bureaucracy, and clearer accountability in drug discovery,” Kindler said when announcing the new structure last week.

After its previous acquisitions of Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia, Pfizer was criticized for moving too slowly and stalling innovation; Kindler admitted as much when the Wyeth deal was announced (C&EN, Feb. 2, page 7). Planning ahead this time, Pfizer expects its combined R&D operation will be positioned to start immediately after the merger is completed.

Still, Martha Freitag, a stock analyst at Argus Research, recently warned clients that there will be definite challenges in successfully integrating the two large companies. The combination is expected to accelerate already-planned job cuts and cost-saving moves. In 2008, both companies had begun reorganizing their R&D operations, exiting research in certain disease areas and concentrating more closely on others.

Within the two new R&D groups, Pfizer will create smaller, focused teams targeting specific therapeutic areas and headed by chief scientific officers pulled from both Pfizer and Wyeth. Another team of scientists will seek and evaluate new technologies and early-stage drug candidates from outside Pfizer.

 
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