Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pfizer in Name, Wy-Pfi in Spirit?

Today Pfizer announced its new corporate and R&D structure scheduled to take effect on the closing of the Wyeth acquisition. And boy does Wyeth seem well represented.

Eight Wyeth executives will be joining the upper eschelons at Pfizer, including Wyeth's president of pharma research Mikael Dolsten, who will head up a newly created BioTherapeutics Research Group. That outfit will comprise the combined companies' biologics and vaccine efforts, including Pfizer's Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center. Pfizer's Martin Mackay, who is currently head of Pfizer Global R&D, will lead small molecule research at the newly named PharmaTherapeutics Research Group.

Dolsten probably won't suffer the same fate as Peter Corr, Warner-Lambert's head of R&D who, following Pfizer's takeover of his company, got a prominent R&D job -- and eventually ran the whole group. But Pfizer's R&D group had a major immune reaction to Corr, who was side-stepped out of R&D and into an awkward policy/business development role before leaving the company when Jeff Kindler became CEO. Dolsten won't have to worry about the same kind of reaction: his BioTherapeutics group largely comes from Wyeth.

Taking a page from GSK's acronym-happy CEDD/DPU structure the two research outfits will house smaller (thus-far nameless) therapeutic or technology focused groups headed by "world-class Chief Scientific Officers." At least two of these CSOs come from Wyeth: Emilio Emini will head up vaccines research and Wyeth's head of research Menelas Pangalos will run neuroscience.

Is Pfizer--and Pharma in general--trying too hard to create authentic biotech conditions within their R&D groups? These strategies seem like the equivalents of the 'authentic' Irish pubs that seem to cover every square mile of the globe. In the end authenticity hardly matters, we'd argue, so long as the Guinness tastes good. And everyone knows it takes a while to pour one of those.

So setting aside for now whether the new research structure and will in fact crank out good stout drug candidates, it's worth noting that Pfizer seems to be bending over backwards to accommodate Wyeth's senior personnel. The same is true on the operations side, where Wyeth execs including Cavan Redmond and Jim Connolly will have prominent roles (see the Pfizer release for all the specs).

All of which suggests that the $4 billion in promised cost cuts are likely to be more fairly distributed than such acquisitions normally suggest -- the impact should be felt, if not quite with exact proportionality, nearly as heavily at Pfizer as at Wyeth.
image from flickrer augie schwer used under a creative commons license.


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Anonymous said...

They're going to lay off 20,000 people. They say half are from R&D and manufacturing. I am less sure than you that the distribution will be equitable.

Helen said...

I am frustrated that the government TARP funds that were meant to STIMULATE the economy and CREATE jobs has those TARP banks lending Pfizer money to acquire Wyeth. This will put 20,000 employees out of work and pay a combined $110.1M severance to Wyeth CEO's.
How is this possible ??