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February 3, 2011
Pfizer's CEO Speaks
If you'd like to hear Pfizer's CEO, Ian Read, try to explain what's going on a the company, Matthew Herper has his recent Q-and-A with the press here. As you might imagine, he's got a story to tell you about how cutting the company's R&D again is going to make it even more innovative.
But I particularly was struck by this part:
One of the main goals of the changes is to try and prevent any repeat of Pfizer’s disastrous investment in Exubera, the inhaled insulin, which the company spent years developing before it hit the market and bombed. Without accountability, Read says, projects were handed off from one team to the next without demands that they actually be ready.
Now, I'm someone looking in from outside, but accountability doesn't seem to me to be the biggest problem that the Exubera project had. I took at crack at the subject myself, and I still think the biggest problems were groupthink, self-deception, and a feeling that the penalties for speaking up against the trend were too great. Ian Read's press conference, on the other hand, has a tone of "Now we're really going to come down on anyone who screws up like this, and you know what? That isn't going to help with any of those factors. It might even make them worse.
But hey, at least it's not costing Pfizer as much to aim people out onto the sidewalk as it used to. The standard severance package was cut just a few months ago. . .
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