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Pfizer's Balancing Act

Executive Summary

Unlike other major companies, Pfizer has successfully counterbalanced the disappointments of its internal R&D with the certainties of other companies' marketable products--first through co-promotions, and later through acquisitions--and its own sales capabilities. But things seem to have changed: by acquiring Pharmacia, Pfizer does as much as it can to assure investors above-average industry growth for the next several years and dilute the impact of the genericization of major products in 2006-7. But the deal also may limit Pfizer's ability to access new late-stage compounds, and thereby hedge the risk that its own pipeline won't produce, as potential licensers evaluate the implications of hooking up with a company which has gobbled up its two most important partners. Instead, Pfizer must depend on M&A to counterbalance risk of R&D failure-but given stronger anti-trust concerns and Pfizer's own breadth of R&D and product line, its acquisition choices will be limited. Nonetheless, with its near-term growth problems settled, Pfizer has created for itself important breathing room unavailable to most of its competitors--and thus greater ability to take advantage of new opportunities that develop.
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