StreetTalk: New Sheriff in Town at Pfizer - Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler is armed with the legal know-how needed to wage patent fights and other battles ever present in today's pharmaceutical

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StreetTalk: New Sheriff in Town at Pfizer
Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler is armed with the legal know-how needed to wage patent fights and other battles ever present in today's pharmaceutical environment


BioPharm International
Volume 19, Issue 9

Kindler gets it. One of his first comments to the press was targeted right at company investors and potential company investors.

"We will transform virtually every aspect of how we do business, focusing on actions that create and sustain value for our shareholders" Kindler said. He added the company will "pursue a broader portfolio of opportunities, including biologics, oncology medicines, potential new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and even vaccines."

Part of that plan will be for Kindler to follow through on last month's deal to sell Pfizer's consumer products division to Johnson & Johnson for $17 billion. That should give Pfizer some financial wiggle room as it sorts out its pipeline issues. Deals to sell other operations this year and next should add more cash to Pfizer's financial arsenal—about $34 billion or so.

While Pfizer will continue to depend on established drugs like Lipitor (analysts estimate $13 billion in sales from the cholesterol drug in 2006), the added cash will buy the company some much needed time and address Wall Street's cry for new drugs to take the place of the expiring old ones. Kindler can help right away by applying his legal smarts to the patent protection process and to the regulatory approval process. In other words, expect to see Kindler lobbying for more lax regulations on C-SPAN during the next several years.

AN INDUSTRY LOOKING FOR CRISIS MANAGERS

In broader terms, it's becoming increasingly apparent that Pfizer will be among the first of many pharmaceutical firms to begin bringing in hands-on lawyer types who know patent law, know drug side effect issues inside and out, and know how to work with federal regulators. Gone will be the days of hiring academics, scientists, and marketing gurus as CEOs.

It's a new reality for drug companies and the board of directors at Pfizer should be given credit for recognizing it first.

The game is changing in the biosciences market and, as usual, the money changers realize that first. No longer can drug companies afford to prop up loyal company lifers who don't know the difference between patent protection and patent leather shoes.

That's not to knock McKinnell directly, because patent and regulatory issues aren't his bread and butter. But it had better be for a new generation of CEOs who have to grapple with management issues that transcend simple market share and matrix management strategies.

Celebrity author and business/finance commentator for CNN and Fox News, Brian O'Connell has written for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, 79 Radcliffe Drive, Doylestown, PA 18901, 267.880.3144, fax 267.880.1939,


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