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Pfizer exits neuroscience R&D space

Published on 08/01/18 at 09:09am

Pfizer announced over the weekend that it would be backing out of research and development into the neuroscience area, abandoning a number of Phase 1 and 2 projects and removing a number of positions from the company.

The move means that there will be 300 jobs lost across the research area, with the positions being shed from its facilities in Andover and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Groton, Connecticut.

The big pharma company explained that it will redirect the research funds and expenses into other areas of the business. Total spending on R&D would not shift as a result of the move, with Pfizer noting that it had invested approximately $8 billion in 2017 and it does not anticipate that changing for 2018.

What will change is the future for the 8 candidates that Pfizer currently has in its neuroscience portfolio, with six in Phase 1 and two in Phase 2. The drugs are mainly focused on treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, two notoriously difficult targets.

In particular, Alzheimer’s has proven to be a huge challenge for pharma companies to tackle, with a number of high profile and expensive failures – including Pfizer’s own Phase 2 candidate, PF-05212377.

Pfizer released a statement on the move, reading: "We will continue to fully support our late-stage development programs for tanezumab and Lyrica, and our Rare Disease programs in the neuromuscular or neurology area, all of which are an integral part of our current R&D portfolio.

“We recognise that neuroscience is an area of tremendous unmet need for patients and we plan to create a dedicated neuroscience venture fund to support continued efforts to advance the field. More details on the fund will be forthcoming this year”.

Until the shape of the venture fund is revealed, it’s unclear what the prospects are for the clinical-stage candidates that Pfizer holds in its locker. However, with any success in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s sure to be a massive earner, there will be more than a few companies interested in trying to snap up the prospects on the cheap.

Ben Hargreaves

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