With profits down, Pfizer announces it will re-focus on research.
For years, apologists for the pharmaceutical industry have attempted to justify outrageous industry profits by arguing that they were necessary to support industry research that ultimately benefits consumers with new medications. Last week's announcement by Pfizer that it now would re-focus on research in response to dwindling profits demonstrates how ill-founded the prior claim was.
Since Pfizer lost its monopoly on Lipitor last fall [parenthetically the best-selling drug in history], its profits have already dropped by 19% and company executives are announcing a radical shift. Instead of buying up small competitors, Pfizer now plans to divest its animal health and infant nutrition subsidiaries, and instead focus its research efforts on only "the most promising" areas of pharmaceutical research. One executive was quoted to the effect that "...we were spending huge amounts of money...we weren't producing the drugs we needed..."
The Company also announced that it would spend less on research and development at the same time that it improved its focus on developing market-worthy new medicines. Critics called this a risky and counter-intuitive strategy. In any event, it is yet another acknowledgement that enormous profits were not being directed to effective research in human medicine.