Pfizer updates late-stage pipeline prospects and discards

With a top-to-bottom restructuring of its R&D ops underway, Pfizer has done a little early spring cleaning with its interactive pipeline website. The pharma giant has divvied up its online outline of ongoing development programs by development stage, with more info on late-stage assets. And the R&D link on the company's website highlights 15 development projects that have been dropped since last fall's corporate update.

Pfizer has shed three Phase III trials--including one for apixaban for acute coronary syndrome, which was dropped after researchers discovered an increased risk of bleeding among patients--along with five mid-stage studies for Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and cancer. Apixaban, though, will continue in late-stage studies for atrial fibrillation. Pfizer has outlined plans to chop its R&D budget down to $6 billion to $6.5 billion in 2012. The company spent $9.4 billion on R&D in 2010, making it the top drug research spender in the world.

Pfizer's plan to shutter its work at Sandwich, UK, meanwhile, has been stirring a hornet's nest of angry recriminations. Execs have been forced to explain that Pfizer had been considering closing the R&D hub--and laying off 2,400 workers--for several months before a decision was made and the Prime Minister's office was told. The trouble is that David Cameron was left looking foolish, publicly praising Pfizer's efforts just weeks ahead of the announcement. And MPs were left to demand why they never had a chance to make a pitch to Pfizer to see if there was some way to save the R&D center.

For the UK, Pfizer's decision to close its Sandwich facilities comes at a particularly bad time. With the economy ailing the conservatives have been touting plans to build up the biopharma industry, hoping to create more drug development jobs. Now the country, a world leader in drug R&D for decades, has to try and stop the bleeding before it can try to expand. 

- here's the Pfizer release
- read the Financial Times story