Kindler axes Pfizer marketing posts

Pfizer has taken an axe to its org chart, pink-slipping several high-level marketing execs and sending others scurrying for new assignments while making deep cuts to its director-level ranks. Leaving the company were Greg Duncan, head of Pfizer’s Latin America operations and former SVP marketing for US Pharmaceuticals, and Julie Fisher, a VP/group leader and head of the neuroscience therapeutic group. Losing their posts were Neil Levine, senior director/group leader for ophthalmology and endocrine care, and Theresa Natalicchio, a VP and head of arthritis. A certain amount of staff reorganization was expected following the board’s choice of Jeffrey Kindler to replace Hank McKinnell as CEO in July. Two weeks after Kindler took office, Karen Katen, vice chairman and president of its now defunct human health division, stepped down. So did Pat Kelly, former president of US Pharmaceuticals. Both remain with the company for now, although Pfizer said Katen will eventually leave. Pfizer also has been grappling with its structure. Kindler split up human health into separate research, regulatory and commercial operations in August. He also replaced the corporate executive triumvirate of Katen, Kindler and David Shedlarz with an executive leadership team comprised of seven people. Speaking at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference in New York City today, Shedlarz said efforts to make the company more "entrepreneurial" wouldn't stop there. "There are 12 layers between the CEO and the scientists," Shedlarz told analysts. "We want to cut that down. Most companies have around six or seven." He added that, "There is nothing off the table in terms of rationalizing the organization and making it as cost-effective as we can." That includes Pfizer’s go-to-market strategies, its field force and marketing. Shedlarz said Pfizer would make a major push to apply technology, such as interactive details, to its business processes, as well as other functions in the company. Pfizer declined to comment on the recent staff changes, referring reporters to its Aug. 15 announcement of the new leadership structure. One person familiar with the situation attributed at least some of the job cuts to Adapting to Scale (ATS), a broad, $4 billion cost-saving initiative begun last year that was to include all operations. Another source close to the company attributed the cuts to friction between US and global divisions. “There was always a lot of conflict between the two groups on how to manage the portfolio,” said the source. In March global executives were brought in to run the US business. Duncan was replaced by Peter Brandt, formerly regional head of Latin America, as head of US sales and marketing. One of Brandt’s new lieutenants became Marie Caroline Sainpy, who moved from worldwide marketing to the role of SVP US Pharmaceuticals marketing and worldwide commercial development.