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April 25, 2011
Now They Tell Us
"Big Pharma should get smaller". Now that's something that most readers around here will have heard or thought several times in recent years. But what if you were hearing it from Pfizer's former head of global development?
You are now. Peter Corr, formerly of Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert, had a chance to see how things worked from the inside at Pfizer. And as he tells Xconomy, it wasn't a thing of beauty:
Warner Lambert/Parke Davis was a larger company “but decisions were still made fast,” he says.
It was not until 2003, when Dr. Corr was Pfizer’s executive vice president of global research & development and president of worldwide development, that he realized the old model was not sustainable.
The company was spending about $8 billion on R&D but only producing about four products a year, a whopping $2 billion per drug, Dr. Corr says.
“That doesn’t work,” he says. “We needed to go out and license (drug candidates) and keep smaller (R&D) sites and let them go on their own. Let them be funded independently. Let them define how they can work best at their particular site as opposed to manage all of these sites around the world and pretend that we knew what was actually going on.”
Of course, this is basically what a lot of people were saying at the time, as they watched productive research organizations being shaken, shuffled, and shuttered. And it's just what many of us have wondered over the years, what the various companies that Pfizer has acquired might have done if they'd just been left alone. Could they possibly have been less productive than they were after they were absorbed?
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