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fizer has announced plans to cut its global research staff by 5%-8% as part of a “very clear strategy” of “dramatically raising the bar on productivity”.

The New York-based drugs giant has told PharmaTimes World News that over the next several months, it will make the cuts at its sites globally to “better align our colleague base with our refocused research efforts”. The reductions will take place at Pfizer’s facilities in Groton, Connecticut, St Louis, La Jolla, California, and Sandwich, UK.

The company is now focusing on six areas – oncology, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, pain, inflammation and diabetes. These are areas “that have the highest probability of success”, Pfizer says, as they “address an unmet medical need and have high market growth potential.”

Pfizer went on to say that it “does not make these decisions lightly” and everyone affected “will be treated with utmost respect and will be offered appropriate financial, professional and personal support”. However the moves are necessary, the firm adds, as it is aims at “aggressively delivering the Phase II and Phase III portfolio”.

Speaking at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Martin Mackay, head of Pfizer R&D, said that by announcing the job cuts, “we haven’t taken any hit on productivity. We haven’t missed any milestones.” He added that Pfizer plans to seek US regulatory approval for 15 to 20 drugs from 2010 to 2012 and will have as many as 28 drugs in Phase III this year, three times the number in 2005.

Dr Mackay also revealed that Pfizer is looking to sell off about 100 investigational drugs that now fall outside its focus areas. These cover treatments for obesity and cholesterol.