Pfizer ends new drug discovery in neuroscience, with loss of 300 jobs

Pfizer announced that it will end early development programmes focused on neuroscience, including those in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, with the loss of 300 jobs. The company said it will redirect funds "to those areas where we have strong scientific leadership and that will allow us to provide the greatest impact for patients."

The drugmaker noted that it routinely reviews its R&D operations to ensure that it is "in the strongest possible position to support scientific discovery and development to bring new therapies to patients who need them." Pfizer indicated that its total spending on R&D will not change.

The company noted that the job cuts will come mostly in Cambridge and Andover, Massachusetts, and in Groton, Connecticut, with about 100 expected at each site. Pfizer added that as neuroscience is an area of high unmet need, it plans "to create a dedicated neuroscience venture fund to support continued efforts to advance the field."

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The move comes after Michael Ehlers, who was chief scientific officer for Pfizer's neuroscience and pain research unit, left the company in 2016 to join Biogen as executive vice president of R&D. According to Pfizer, it will continue to "fully support" late-stage development programmes for tanezumab and Lyrica (pregabalin), as well as rare disease programmes in the neuromuscular or neurology area.

In 2015, Pfizer and partner Eli Lilly resumed the Phase III programme for tanezumab in chronic pain after the FDA lifted a partial clinical hold on the drug. The companies entered into an agreement in 2013 to jointly develop and market tanezumab for a number of pain-related conditions, with the deal being potentially worth up to $1.8 billion to Pfizer.

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