1well, this is a step, but don't know if this will become a trend in the
future,I mean, 3 - 5 years.
Company plans gradual move of antibacterials operations to Shanghai
Pfizer Inc. plans to move its antibacterials research unit in Groton to
Shanghai, China, but said some local scientists involved in the research
will remain in Groton for up to two years as the company builds the new
Analysts said allowing the local researchers, who are working on antibiotics
to fight the scourge of superbugs such as MRSA, to remain in Groton lets
them see their late-stage experimental drugs to conclusion, while relatively
new programs will move to China as soon as the unit there opens.
Industry analysts said Pfizer's action would be the first wholesale move of
a major U.S. pharmaceutical research unit to China. Previously, U.S. firms
had relied on China mostly for support functions rather than high-level
"Ten years ago, no one would have thought to go to Shanghai," said James O'
Malley, a former Pfizer researcher who now runs the New London biotech firm
"It's an acknowledgment of labor cost and high intellect in China," added
Larry Rothman, a respected industry blogger.
O'Malley and another industry executive, who didn't want to be named because
his company does business in China, said placing a major research unit in
Shanghai would garner favor from Chinese officials, giving Pfizer more ready
access to the huge potential drug market there.
"It's the same in Europe," O'Malley said. "You can't sell unless you
manufacture in Europe."
Some analysts said the Pfizer move could be a way to skirt the strict
regulatory guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But others
said they weren't sure Chinese standards are any looser than in the United
States and wondered whether clinical trials conducted in China would be
accepted by the FDA.
Antibacterials research has not been fruitful of late, and antibiotics aren'
t huge sellers because so many generic medicines are available. Moving the
antibacterials research unit to Shanghai could be a way for Pfizer to
maintain a presence in the field at a lower cost than remaining in Groton.
Pfizer said in an e-mail that it will continue to run clinical and pre-
clinical programs related to antibacterials research at its Groton research
site "to ensure uninterrupted progress on these important programs."
"This means Groton will continue work on current projects in antibacterials,
" according to Pfizer spokeswoman Sperry Mylott.
Pfizer has already said its antibacterials unit would be leaving Groton as
part of a downsizing of its local research-and-development hub. Pfizer would
not furnish specifics about its planned move to China, but in 2009 Pfizer
officials said they planned to expand an existing research site in Shanghai
and said the city would house one of the company's main global R&D sites.
"We are shifting the global footprint of our R&D network to more fully align
with key hubs for science and technology, which has caused us to take a
look at all areas of research," Pfizer said in an e-mail response to
questions about the move to Shanghai.
Other changes in Pfizer's R&D operations includes a downsizing of the
Indications Discovery Unit in St. Louis, which attempts to find new uses for
older drugs. Pfizer said it plans to continue a collaboration with
Washington University in St. Louis that enlists academics' help in finding
new uses for Pfizer's established products.
Pfizer said its Groton autism unit will make the move to Cambridge, Mass.,
along with those neuroscience staff asked to stay on. But the company had no
specific information on when neuroscientists or those associated with
Pfizer's cardiovascular, metabolic and endocrine disorders unit would be
moving to Massachusetts.
Pfizer said its plans to vacate its New London office towers are on track to
be completed at the end of the year, when the site's transition to Electric
Boat is completed. Pfizer said the downsizing of its overall local presence
has not changed the schedule for scientists to leave New London.