Pfizer cuts five biosimilar candidates and 150 jobs in R&D shakeup

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Eduard Lysenko)
(Image: Getty/Eduard Lysenko)

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Pfizer has chosen to drop five biosimilar candidates and 150 jobs to divert the funds into developing its late-stage pipeline.

The decision was made after an annual R&D investment review, which chose to cut the funding for five preclinical biosimilars assets.

According to a Pfizer spokesperson, the drug candidates were four to eight years away from commercialisation.

The spokesperson told us, “This [decision] will support our ability to better allocate resources to cutting edge late-stage programs in disease areas where patients have only a few or no treatment options.”

However, the spokesperson emphasised that its decision to reduce the size of its pipeline “does not change Pfizer’s overall commitment to biosimilars.”

The decision will also see approximately 150 Pfizer employees within R&D lose their positions.

Beyond these terminated assets, the company’s biosimilar portfolio includes three products on the US market, after launching the first biosimilar in the US​. The spokesperson told us that it also has five mid- to late-stage biosimilar candidates currently moving through clinical trials.

While Pfizer has a large position within the biosimilar market, the company’s efforts to make inroads into originator products’ share of the market has been met with resistance.

Pfizer claimed​ that Johnson & Johnson has fought potential sales impact on its Remicade (infliximab) product by offering discounts if providers do not purchase biosimilar alternatives.

This resistance has not deterred biosimilar developers from applying to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval, with more approvals and applications in 2018​ compared to previous years.

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