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Wyeth execs to lead on biotech in new Pfizer

Published on 08/04/09 at 03:37pm

Pfizer has unveiled the new structure of the merged company created by its proposed acquisition of Wyeth.

It plans to create two R&D divisions, with a greater concentration on the development of large molecules.

This chimes with the manufacturer's need for diversification as patent expiry and generic competition erode its performance: last year 98% of Pfizer's prescription pharma sales were from small molecules.

Wyeth, by contrast, generated 18% from therapeutic protein products and 16% from vaccines.

Martin Mackay, head of Pfizer's global R&D, will lead the new pharma therapeutics research group, which will look at small molecules.

Mikael Dolsten, president of Wyeth Research, will head the biotherapeutics research group looking at large-molecule research, including vaccines.

Its mandate will be to create a pipeline in vaccines, antibodies, proteins, peptides and nucleic acids.

Pfizer chief executive Jeff Kindler said: "Creating two distinct, but complementary, research organisations, led by the top scientist from each company, will provide sharper focus, less bureaucracy and clearer accountability in drug discovery."

Small scientific teams within the two groups will identify therapeutic areas and technologies with potential to achieve this.

They will also "aggressively pursue" collaborations in academia as well as public and private sector institutions.

Eight senior executives from Wyeth will join the merged company, including head of vaccine R&D Emilio Emini, who will join Pfizer as chief scientific officer (CSO).

Wyeth's head of discovery Menelas Pangalos becomes CSO, neuroscience research.

The new company will consist of nine global healthcare businesses including primary care, specialty care and vaccines, emerging markets, oncology and animal health.

Although competition regulator the US Federal Trade Commission this week asked Pfizer for more information on the planned acquisition, it is still expected to go through in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

However, research from Datamonitor suggested that, while the merger will help stem the decline in Pfizer's prescription pharma sales, it won't stop it completely.

The figures say sales were declining at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% to 2013, due to patent expiries such as that of its blockbuster statin Lipitor.

Pfizer-Wyeth is forecast by 2013 to have combined prescription pharma revenues of approximately $55 billion, slipping back from the $61bn earned last year.

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