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Pfizer to lay off 800 researchers worldwide

January 14, 2009 15:10 IST

Pfizer [Get Quote] is laying off 800 researchers worldwide, a decision that according to a media report is a tacit admission that the firm's laboratories have failed to make good use of the money that has been poured into it in recent years.

The world's largest pharmaceutical company by sales told the scientists and technicians around the world that it is eliminating their jobs. By the year end, it expects to have laid off five per cent to eight per cent of its 10,000 researchers, the Wall Street Journal said, quoting head of Pfizer's research and development Martin Mackay.

The pharmaceutical industry, the paper said, faces pressure from investors to slash its spending because drugs generating an estimated $30 billion in sales will lose patent protection over the next several years, sparking competition from less-expensive generic drugs.

The recession may trigger even bigger spending cuts, analysts said, if cash-strapped consumers start filling fewer prescriptions or turning more to generics.

Pfizer in particular is bracing for the 2011 expiration of the patent on cholesterol fighter Lipitor, the world's top-selling drug, which accounts for a quarter of Pfizer's roughly $48 billion in annual revenue, the report noted.

Before the latest round of cuts, Pfizer had eliminated 14,600 jobs since January 2007.

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