One of the best-known figures in the pharmaceutical industry, David Shedlarz, has announced that he is to retire as Pfizer’s vice chairman by the end of 2007, having been with the drugs giant for over 30 years.

Mr Shedlarz, 59, joined Pfizer in 1976 and has held a number of posts at the firm, becoming chief financial officer in 1995 and playing a key role in Pfizer’s $114 billion acquisition of Warner-Lambert in 2000 and the purchase of Pharmacia in 2003.

He had been among the leading candidates to take over from Hank McKinnell who was ousted as chief executive in July last year but the job went to Jeffrey Kindler who paid tribute to Mr Shedlarz. He said that “David has been a valuable partner to me as our new team has worked together to drive fundamental changes in how Pfizer does business” and Mr Shedlarz returned the compliment, saying that Mr Kindler is a strong leader “who has taken a series of actions - including tough decisions in all areas of the company - to revitalise Pfizer over the past year. He is taking the right steps to change the structure of the company in a strategic, disciplined way”.

The departure of Mr Shedlarz marks the end of an era at Pfizer. Chief financial officer Alan Levin resigned in May and on the same day, the head of global R&D, John LaMattina, announced that he would be leaving after 30 years’ service. The new CFO is Frank D'Amelio and the announcement of Martin Mackay, as Dr LaMattina’s replacement completed Mr Kindler’s new team of senior management.