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October 29, 2008
Cutbacks - But Not As Bad This Time
So Wyeth is cutting back on its therapeutic areas as well. According to that Bloomberg story, they're going to focus on oncology, inflammation, neuroscience, vaccines, metabolic diseases and muscular-skeletal disorders. That's still a pretty wide swath of territory, but note what it leaves out: cardiovascular and infectious diseases, just to pick two big areas. And there are clearly some details to be worked out - for example, neuroscience clearly encompasses Alzheimer's, where the company has a big effort. But are they going to try dementia, too? Antidepressants? Pain? Multiple sclerosis? These are big fields.
At least this one isn't coming along with its own whopping package of R&D cuts. The company says that some of its research staff will lose their jobs, as their specialty areas disappear, but overall, they claim that they're not cutting staff, and that R&D spending will remain constant. I certainly hope that's true; the last thing we need is another big layoff around this industry. Anyone inside Wyeth care to comment?
What these rounds of research concentration might do, in the longer term, is open up a number of areas to smaller companies. There are a number of less-heavily-populated therapeutic fields now: does that create opportunities to be filled? Of course, the reasons some of these are being abandoned still obtain - lack of good targets, lower profit potential, and so on. But smaller outfits may well be able to colonize these environments, and I hope that they do.
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