Pfizer to Can 800 Researchers

Company must cut R&D spending ahead of Lipitor patent expiration
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2009 12:19 PM CST
Forty-milligram tablets of the drug Lipitor are photographed in Glen Rock, NJ, in a file photo from Nov. 15, 2005.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
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(Newser) – 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.