Pfizer to cut 800 R&D jobs

Rumors have been swirling for some time now that Pfizer would announce layoffs in January. Those reports were confirmed today as Pfizer announced it would cut 5 to 8 percent of its 10,000 R&D jobs in 2009.

In a email sent to FierceBiotech the company had this to say: "Over the next several months, we will reduce our PGRD staffing to better align our colleague base with our refocused research efforts. We are being very methodical about staffing our people so that we can ensure that we have the right scientific expertise for the future to better achieve our very clear goals... We continually look for ways to operate our business more effectively and efficiently to create value for all of our constituents."

The company went on to say that the layoffs are a part of ongoing changes announced back in September. At that time, Pfizer said that it was restructuring to focus on "valuable" research areas such as oncology, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, pain, inflammation and diabetes. It also said said it would move away from research on heart, obesity and osteoporosis treatments. The new focus areas, Pfizer said, have the highest probability of success for Pfizer, address an unmet medical need, and have high market growth potential.

A spokesperson for the company didn't indicate how the move would impact Pfizer's ongoing biotech push, or whether the company was considering a major buyout deal. In recent weeks market-watchers have been anticipating a major acquisition announcement from Pfizer after CEO Jeffrey Kindler said he'd be open to such a deal. In 2011, Pfizer is facing generic competition for its $13-billion-a-year blockbuster med Lipitor. We'll have to wait and see if the company thinks a major deal will help ease its way into a Lipitor-less future.