LaMattina gives insider's view of R&D 'upheaval' at Pfizer

John LaMattina has provided some new insights from his past days inside the belly of the Pfizer beast, this time in a candid interview with Pharmalot's Ed Silverman. And the drug giant's former R&D chief shed light on his own dealings with the company's top brass, with whom he clashed over strategy involving mergers and acquisitions.

It's now well-documented that LaMattina, who left Pfizer in 2007 after three decades with the company, is a major critic of Big Pharma firms cutting R&D spending to prop up their stock prices in the short-term. Yet the pharma veteran, who is now a senior partner at Puretech Ventures of Boston, gave Silverman some interesting tidbits that illuminate the politics and rivalries at Pfizer during his tenure at the company.

Before he left the company, for instance, LaMattina clashed with Jeff Kindler (photo) over the former chief executive's "desire to do another acquisition" after Pfizer had already gobbled up Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia in two mega-mergers. "I told him that you can't do that to this organization, we can't handle another upheaval," LaMattina told Silverman. "It was a pretty pointed discussion...And his response to me was that we're just two ships passing in the night."

LaMattina also gets into some of the aches that Pfizer's R&D organization suffered while trying to bring new research groups from acquired companies into the fold. When Pfizer shut down an R&D facility in Ann Arbor, for example, it attempted to relocate about 700 of 2,100 researchers whose jobs were cut in the process. The tricky part is that such relocations interrupt research activities, with productivity presumably suffering in the process. "That takes a heck of a lot out of an organization," he told Silverman.

- check out the interview