Pfizer spent $6.68 billion on research and development in 2013, down from an R&D budget of $7.48 billion in 2012. At its height following the 2009 acquisition of Wyeth, R&D expenses were about $11 billion.
With Pfizer's promise to protect the UK research, jobs at AstraZeneca's oncology and neuroscience research centers near Boston and its MedImmune cancer research and development operation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, could also come under the cost-cutting knife.
Selvaraju said wholesale job cuts in the United States appeared likely because workers here have less protection than in Europe. "It's easier to let people go," he said, noting employers don't have to give much severance or that much notice.
Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez agreed that a significant portion of the synergies "will come from the substantial overlaps in the U.S." He also predicted some cuts would come from duplications in emerging markets and in Germany.
"This deal makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint," LaMattina said. "But for R&D it stinks."