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Volume 87 Issue 3 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: January 19, 2009

Pharma Research

Pfizer will eliminate up to 800 R&D positions in 2009
Department: Business

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Pfizer will lay off up to 800 researchers and other employees in its Pfizer Global Research & Development division this year. The cuts amount to between 5 and 8% of the staff at PGRD, which has facilities in Groton, Conn., and Sandwich, England, as well as at four other U.S. locations. The company is not releasing the locations where job cuts are being made. Pfizer informed affected employees last week.

Ray Kerins, Pfizer's global head of media relations, tells C&EN that the job cuts are part of a reorganization under PGRD's new president, Martin Mackay. He notes that Mackay, in his first year on the job, has eliminated 37 drug development projects to center resources on the most promising projects in six therapeutic areas: pain, oncology, inflammatory disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease.

The layoffs are happening in the broader context of pharmaceutical industry cost-cutting on the eve of patent expirations for numerous blockbuster drugs. Pfizer, the world's largest drug company with an annual R&D budget of more than $7 billion, faces the loss of patent exclusivity for the cholesterol drug Lipitor—the world's top-selling drug—in 2011.

Cuts in R&D staff at Pfizer have been anticipated for months, and the loss of 800 jobs is not indicative of a change in course for research, according to analysts.

"This represents a very small percentage of their research budget," says Jean P. LeCroy, a health care industry analyst at Natixis Securities North America. "But in terms of that many researchers and Ph.D.s getting laid off, it's probably a fairly significant event for the researchers and the economy."

 
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