Pfizer regroups businesses under global umbrellas

Pfizer regroups businesses under global umbrellas
Pfizer regroups businesses under global umbrellas
Pfizer established global business units to house its primary care and specialty drugs, along with a separate group for its efforts in emerging markets, moving away from a regional structure and putting development, medical, sales and marketing teams for those brands worldwide under one roof.

“We're taking what we used to have, which was a reasonable geographic focus, and we're now aligning under global business units with the core objective of focusing on our customers better than we ever have before,” Ray Kerins, VP, worldwide communications, told MM&M.

The three new business units – primary care, specialty and emerging markets – will stand alongside existing units focused on animal health, oncology, capsules, biotherapeutics and off-patent drugs. Research will remain separate, but clinical and commercial development functions will be folded into appropriate business units.

Kerins said the concept was first telegraphed by chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler in a January 2007 memo in which he advised employees “that we're looking to establish smaller operating units that can enhance innovation and accountability while drawing upon the scale and resources of Pfizer.”

Shortly thereafter, the company established its Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center, which was followed by Animal Health and Capsugel (Pfizer manufactures 60% of the industry's capsules). In March the firm announced the formation of two more units – one containing the company's oncology efforts, the other more than 350 branded drugs such as Norvasc and Medrol that have lost patent protection but still sell high volumes, along with generic versions of Pfizer drugs manufactured by the company's generics division, Greenstone.

The aim is to take advantage of Pfizer's global reach while getting its businesses closer to the ground, said Kerins. “This allows us to focus on the customer, which can be the physician, the patient or the payer,” said Kerins, noting that the only remaining unit organized geographically will be the emerging markets group, which will direct the company's efforts in Russia, China, India and Turkey, among other markets. “It gets us to focus on the needs of very different marketplaces rather than trying to lump an entire region under one,” he said.

Under the new structure, research will offer Phase 1-ready compounds to the business units. If the leadership of a unit doesn't see opportunity in a compound, research can then license it to other companies, said Kerins.  

Heading Primary Care will be Pedro Lichtinger, formerly area president, European pharmaceutical operations. Olivier Brandicourt, formerly SVP and general manager for Pfizer's Pratt US business unit, will lead Specialty Care, and Jean-Michel Halfon, previously area president for Canada, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, will lead Emerging Markets. Established Products is headed by Dave Simmons, Oncology by Garry Nicholson and Animal Health by Juan-Ramon Alaix. Martin Mackay will continue to lead R&D.

Last week, in an internal memo, Mackay announced that the company would narrow its R&D focus to treatments for five disease states -- Alzheimer's, diabetes, inflammation/immunology, oncology, and pain and psychoses (schizophrenia) -- while continuing efforts in asthma, COPD, genitourinary, infectious diseases, smoking cessation, thrombosis, transplant and possibly ophthalmology.

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