Ambitious cancer R&D plans may explain Merck KGaA cutbacks

Anyone looking for some perspective on Merck KGaA's recent R&D cutbacks should check out an interview CFO Marcus Kuhnert gave to CNBC. Noting that its flagship MS drug Rebif has been facing some major league competition as new drugs enter the MS market, he adds that the company has been ratcheting up R&D spending for its oncology unit in the wake of an $850 million upfront partnership with Pfizer ($PFE). "We have a strategic alliance with Pfizer, with whom we are leveraging our oncology pipeline and here we will be facing a ramp-up in R&D costs and this will also burden our P&L," he added. That added spending may help explain a series of recent moves at Merck KGaA to cut back research costs. The company recently confirmed word FierceBiotech had received that it is cutting early-stage research work on multiple sclerosis and has also dropped a series of partnership arrangements as it reorganizes its research arm, which has been in turmoil for years. Story