Pfizer (NYSE: PFE
will close its R&D facility in Groton, Connecticut and move its
antibacterials research operations to Shanghai. Although all major
multinationals are doing research in China, it is highly unusual for a
big pharma to move an entire lab there.
The switch will be
gradual, according to Pfizer. Some researchers will remain at their
present facility for up to two years, seeing their projects through to
completion and also allowing Pfizer time to complete construction on
its Shanghai lab. Pfizer's antibacterial operation is developing
antibiotics to counteract superbugs such as MRSA that are resistant to
commonly available treatments.
Besides the cost advantage of
doing drug research in China and the talent available there, ex-Pfizer
executives commented that a Shanghai facility helps gain favor with the
SFDA, which comes in handy when a company like Pfizer seeks China
approval for its drugs.
Pfizer had previously announced it would
close the Groton lab. In 2009, the company indicated it would close six
of its twenty R&D global facilities as it rationalized its
operations and cut costs. At the same time, the company was bulking up
its Shanghai R&D operation. Pfizer opened its Shanghai R&D
Center in 2005 and has been steadily been adding staff since then.