Pfizer to cut costs, expand in China

New York - Pfizer Inc. says it plans to outsource more drug manufacturing, lower costs ahead of generic competition for its blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor, and expand broadly in China.

At a meeting with investment analysts, the New York-based drugmaker also reaffirmed its outlook for 2008 profit and sales Wednesday, still forecasting adjusted profit of $2.35 to $2.45 per share and revenue of $47 billion to $49 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are expecting profit of $2.37 per share and revenue of $48.08 billion.

Shares rose 22 cents to $22.46 in premarket trading.

"We are proactively managing our total cost structure to do what is necessary to size the company appropriately to align with our revenues so that we deliver growing profitability after the Lipitor loss of exclusivity," said Chief Financial Officer Frank D'Amelio, in a statement.

The key patent on Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug, expires in November 2011.

Pfizer said it wants to boost its market share in Asia to 6 percent by 2012, up from 4 percent currently, and will expand operations in China from the 110 cities it now serves to more than 650 cities.

Pfizer also said the number of experimental drugs in its pipeline which will move forward from midstage testing to late-stage trials will range from 15 to 20 by the end of 2009. In an effort to stave off the threat of generic competition to its top-line, the company said it will grow its Phase III programs by 50 percent to 75 percent to between 24 and 28 programs by December 2009 -- up from 16 programs currently.

Three compounds moving to late-stage development include: CP-751871, a treatment for gastrointestinal, genitourinary, lung and breast cancer; CP-690550, to treat rheumatoid arthritis, transplant rejection, psoriasis, Crohn's disease, and asthma; and diabetes drug PF-734200.

Pfizer is targeting 15 to 20 regulatory submissions between 2010 and 2012.

The company said it will speed clinical development on 20 programs in disease areas such as arthritis, cancer, pain and diabetes, and terminate 24 clinical and preclinical programs so it can reinvest in high-value areas.

Pfizer said it currently has 26 biotech drugs spanning 8 treatment areas and has set the goal of becoming a top-tier biotherapeutics company.

Pfizer also said it is forming a new business unit focused solely on cancer drugs, a market expected to more than double in the next decade. The oncology business unit will help Pfizer expedite launches of new cancer agents, and focus research efforts on cancers common in Asia, including those of the liver, esophagus and nasopharynx.

(The Associated Press)

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