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Pfizer: I'm Reporting Layoffs? That's News To Me

Tuesday, 4 Sep 2007 | 2:18 PM ET

As I was gearing up to come back to work from my extended holiday weekend I searched some of my mainstay internet sources for information and tips yesterday including cafepharma.com. It's filled with pharmaceutical and biotech company message boards with postings mostly from sales reps complaining, providing job applicants with salary and benefits details, occasionally revealing the latest internal memo, and frankly, spreading rumors and gossip.

So, like so much stuff on the web, you have to read the posts with a huge grain of salt. That said, this anonymous post on the Pfizer message board from Monday afternoon caught my eye: CNBC has the story: "Force reductions leaked out and to be reported by Mike Huckman on Tuesday" (Cafepharma.com post)

Really? That was the first I'd heard about more layoffs at PFE and that it would be my story assignment today. Where does "Anonymous" get this stuff? And why would anyone believe it? Still, I thought, "Hmmm. Where there's smoke maybe there's fire," and I emailed one of my PR contacts at Pfizer. A short time later we spoke by phone and was told, on the record, the boilerplate response that Pfizer doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. Other postings went on to "detail" that 40% of the company's district managers would be getting pink slips today. As far as I know, none of this is true.

Yes, Pfizer is in the middle of a major restructuring and company officials have repeatedly said that they're always looking for more places to cut. Certainly the performance of the stock, which is rallying this afternoon along with the rest of the sector (except Merck ), indicates that Wall Street wants the company to do more--whether it's cutbacks, buybacks, M & A, successful drug development, you name it.

CNBC has the story alright. Don't believe everything you read.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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