Pfizer will eliminate the jobs of up to 800 researchers in 2009, starting today, the Wall Street Journal reports. The pharmaceutical giant is attempting to cut costs ahead of a $30 billion reduction in revenue expected in 2011 when its patent on the popular cholesterol drug Lipitor expires. But the cuts signal a larger rethinking of pharmaceutical R&D.
While discovering new medications is still the company’s chief priority, large firms such as Pfizer can buy drugs developed by smaller companies—or the companies themselves. "R&D is still the heart and soul of a pharmaceutical company, but it doesn't always have to express itself as a company's own R&D, and that's what I'm seeing more and more," said a Pfizer lab director who was let go last year.