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May 31, 2010
Volume 88, Number 22
p. 10

R&D Heads Shift At Big Pharma

R&D Management: Pfizer and AstraZeneca get new research chiefs

Rick Mullin

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DolstenPfizer (both)

In a shake-up for R&D at two major drug companies, Mikael Dolsten, the former head of R&D at Wyeth, will take the research helm at Pfizer as president of worldwide research and development. Meanwhile, Martin Mackay, the former Pfizer R&D head who has shared research stewardship with Dolsten since Pfizer bought Wyeth last year, will leave to head research at AstraZeneca in the newly created position of president of R&D.

Pfizer CEO Jeffrey B. Kindler says his firm’s move is part of an effort to expedite the merger of two large drug companies. “Rapid integration has been enhanced by strong and steady collaboration between the two legacy R&D groups, making consolidation under one leader a natural and progressive step to take at this point,” he says.

The change marks the third reordering of Pfizer’s R&D leadership since John L. LaMattina left in December 2007. Initially, Mackay succeeded LaMattina, and biotech entrepreneur Corey Goodman headed biotech research ventures in San Francisco that reported directly to Kindler. Goodman left Pfizer after the Wyeth deal was announced. After the acquisition, Mackay and Dolsten began sharing top management responsibilities, with Mackay in charge of small-molecule drugs and Dolsten leading biotherapeutics.

At AstraZeneca, the heads of discovery and development research, who had shared top responsibility for R&D, will report to Mackay when he assumes his new role on July 1. The current chief of AstraZeneca’s discovery wing, Mene Pangalos, also joined AstraZeneca from Pfizer earlier this year when his predecessor, Jan M. Lund­berg, became head of research at Eli Lilly & Co. Pangalos came to Pfizer from Wyeth with the acquisition.

Viren Mehta, managing partner of pharmaceutical investment research firm Mehta Partners, says the news “means nothing to investors.” Consolidation of management in R&D does not address what he sees as the drug industry’s main problem in R&D productivity—organizational bloat. “The R in R&D is the ultimate illustration of small being beautiful. But the Pfizers and AstraZenecas have created the antithesis of this,” he says. “If R does not function, D does not have much to do other than justify its existence by building larger and larger organizations.”

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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