U.S. News

Pfizer's CFO Resigns, R&D President to Retire

Pfizer's CEO Jeff Kindler.
Fred Beckham

Jeffrey Kindler, the chief executive of the world's largest drug maker Pfizer Inc.  , continued to clean house with the announcement late Sunday that the company's research and development chief and chief financial officer will soon leave.

The news comes as the company seeks to cut 10,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its work force, as it tries to boost profits with tepid sales anticipated in the near future. Kindler, the architect of the company's transformation, became Pfizer's CEO and chairman last year.

John LaMattina, the longtime president of global research and development, will retire from the company by the end of the year, Pfizer said. The company's chief financial officer, Alan Levin, also resigned.

Pfizer said both executives have agreed to remain at the company during the search for their replacements.

LaMattina, 57, has been with the company since 1977 and, as the head of research and development, was tasked with keeping Pfizer's product line vital.

Levin, 45, took over as chief of finance in 2005. He said in a statement that he felt after 20 years of service with Pfizer it was the "appropriate time for me to explore career opportunities outside of the company."

Kindler credited LaMattina with building the company's early- and mid-stage drug pipelines. The company has about 50 candidates in early stage development and about 30 in mid-stage development. Early stage drugs take an average eight and a half years to make it to a possible Food and Drug Administration approval, and mid-stage drugs are an average of seven years away. The company has a handful of drug candidates in late-stage development.

Pfizer is facing tough challenges. Analysts are skeptical that the maker of Lipitor and Viagra can generate enough sales from current and pipeline products to counter billions in sales that will be lost because of expiring patents on key drugs.

"We intend to make our internal capability even more effective by tapping into the best scientific capability outside our walls wherever it exists," Kindler said Sunday in the statement announcing the leadership changes.