Pfizer reveals $4bn cost-cutting plan

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The Independent Online

Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, unveiled plans yesterday to slice $4bn (£2bn) from annual costs by 2008 as it tries to combat expirations on patents and ongoing concerns about its blockbuster painkiller Celebrex.

Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, unveiled plans yesterday to slice $4bn (£2bn) from annual costs by 2008 as it tries to combat expirations on patents and ongoing concerns about its blockbuster painkiller Celebrex.

Shares in Pfizer rose 4 per cent in New York after the company said it would achieve double the $2bn in savings analysts had expected.

The company also had some bad news. It said a 50 per cent drop in prescriptions for Celebrex and another Cox-2 inhibitor drug, Bextra, were contributory factors in its need to reduce forecasts for 2005 earnings to $2 a share, down from expectations of $2.12.

Pfizer will reduce its headcount as part of its cost-cutting programme, but would not give details of where job cuts would fall. The headcount cut will include reducing its 38,000-strong sales force.Pat Kelly, the president of Pfizer's US pharma unit, said: "We are restructuring the sales force to better meet the ongoing customer needs. That will lead to some modest reduction in the overall count of representatives. That will be achieved through normal attrition."

Hank McKinnell, the chairman and chief executive, said Pfizer faces "a number of uncertainties", including expirations on patents analysts have estimated as being worth $14bn.

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