The world's number one pharma Pfizer has trimmed its R&D pipeline again, this time axing 15 experimental projects in a bid to streamline its operations and save some cash.

Those that have been given the chop span early to late development stages, and include Lyrica for Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which was in the registration phase, as well as three Phase III projects: apixaban for Acute Coronary Syndrome; Thelin (sitaxentan) for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension; and Lyrica (pregabalin) for post-operative pain. 

The move follows an earlier cut into its R&D pipeline unveiled in Autumn last year, when the drug giant said no less than 31 different projects had to go to help it leverage its best assets and thereby maximise efficiency.

Then, in February, Pfizer announced plans to cutback its global R&D spend by some $1.5-$2.0 billion, a move which spelled the end of its largest European research facility, based in Sandwich, England, as well as other sites in Europe and North America, in order to create a more focused and sustainable R&D engine for innovation.

The company's reign as the world's biggest drugmaker could be coming to an end, as it is forced to grapple with a huge patent cliff that could put a significant dent in its sales. 

In 2012, four of Pfizer's key earners will lose their protection and face generic competition - the cholesterol buster Lipitor (atorvastatin), the antiulcerant Protonix (pantoprazole), Viagra (sildenafil) for erectile dysfunction and antipsychotic Geodon (ziprazidone), fuelling the group's need to reduce spending and increase productivity.

King deal closed

Meanwhile, Pfizer announced the completion of its $3.6 billion purchase of King Pharmaceuticals.

The deal provides the company with access to King’s Meridian auto-injector business for emergency drug delivery, which develops and manufactures the EpiPen, as well as its Alpharma animal health business, "both of which are complementary to and aligned with Pfizer’s existing businesses,” noted Ian Read, Pfizer's president and chief executive officer. 

“With the addition of King’s talented colleagues and innovative products and technology, Pfizer will offer patients who are in need of pain relief and pain management a broader spectrum of treatment options,” he added. 

Pfizer said it continues to expect the transaction to be accretive to its adjusted diluted earnings per share by around $0.02 in both 2011 and 2012, and $0.03 $0.04 annually through 2015, with initial cost savings (from operating expenses) of at least $200 million by the end of 2013.