Pfizer antibacterial research moving to China

TheDay is reporting that Pfizer plans to move its antibacterial research group from Groton, CT to Shanghai, China. Some research scientists will stay on at the Groton site for up to two years as they finish up late-stage project; newer programs will move to China as soon as the site is ready. Pfizer's antibacterial research includes drugs for the treatment of MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The paper notes that given the relatively small return on investments pharma companies reap from the generics-packed antibiotics market, the cheaper China digs could be a way for Pfizer to increase its profit margins.

"Ten years ago, no one would have thought to go to Shanghai," former Pfizer researcher and current Myometrics CEO James O'Malley tells TheDay. Adds pharma blogger Larry Rothman, the move is "an acknowledgment of labor cost and high intellect in China." Pharma has typically relied on China to support its R&D work elsewhere; Pfizer's move signals a willingness to move more original research work into the country. Some analysts say this is the first time they have seen a pharma company shift an entire research unit to China. But with Big Pharma determined to seize any possible savings it can find in research and the entire industry focused on emerging markets, it probably will not be the last such relocation.

"We are shifting the global footprint of our R&D network to more fully align with key hubs for science and technology, which has caused us to take a look at all areas of research," Pfizer said in an email.

- here's the story from TheDay