Pfizer Closes CovX Unit in San Diego

Pfizer Closes CovX Unit in San Diego

February 18th, 2013 // 6:10 pm @

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Five years after buying the privately held CovX biotech in hopes of bolstering its withering pipeline, Pfizer is now closing the unit as part of ongoing cuts and reorganization in research and development. At the time, the drugmaker touted CovX for its technology platform and preclinical work in metabolic and oncology research (read here).

“We continue to prioritize our R&D capital allocation to drive the next wave of innovative medicines and vaccines to patients, from a robust pipeline. There has been no change in the amount we invest in R&D, but rather in the way that we invest it. As a result of this, we have announced the closure of the CovX Research Unit in San Diego,” a Pfizer spokeswoman writes us, adding that nearly 100 employees will be affected. The closing, by the way, was first reported by In The Pipeline.

Originally, CovX was to have been a lynchpin in the Pfizer Biotherapeutic and Bioinnovation Center, which had been created just a few months before the CovX acquisition with the high-profile hiring of Corey Goodman (back story). Since then, however, Pfizer has slashed R&D spending, which was $7.87 billion last year, down 13 percent from 2011. The drugmaker forecast a further drop this year to about $6.5 billion to $7 billion (see this and this).

Those cuts were made in response to several developments, notably, the acquisition of Wyeth in 2009, which prompted Pfizer (PFE) management to slash myriad expenses, and the looming patent expiration for the big-selling Lipitor cholesterol pill, a closely watched event that occurred in late 2011. Goodman, meanwhile, left nearly four years ago in the wake of the Wyeth acquisition (back story).

In recent weeks, Pfizer R&D cuts have been highlighted elsewhere as well. The drugmaker disclosed plans to shutter an R&D facility in Singapore that employs 30 people and there was a report that Pfizer has quietly cut hundreds of jobs at its Groton, Connecticut laboratories over the past year (read here and here).


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