John J. Powers, Jr.

John J. Powers, Jr.

President (1965 – 1971)
Chief Executive Officer (1965 – 1972)
Chairman of the Board (1968 – 1972)

Jack Powers and his father served Pfizer for a total of 75 years, beginning in 1909 when John Powers, Sr. became head of sales and marketing. A graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, Jack Powers was hired by the Company in 1941 as its newly formed, one-man Legal Department. The outbreak of war created endless legal matters, government regulations, and innumerable new forms and procedures. For the first time in history, the Company needed in-house legal guidance. Powers played a vital part in steering the Company through the maze of government regulations and in the purchase of real estate as the Brooklyn plant expanded into mass production of antibiotics.

In 1945, Powers was named assistant to President John Smith and soon thereafter, as senior vice president, he turned his attention to international trade and the organization of Pfizer's overseas activities. Under the strategy of "plan globally, engage locally," he directed the establishment of offices in Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico, and Brazil, which were followed by operations in Canada, England, Belgium, and Japan. The Company's development into a major multinational business is reflected in the fact that international sales had grown to $223 million by the end of 1964, almost 50 percent of Pfizer's total sales.

In recognition of his achievements, Powers was elected president of Pfizer in 1965 and Chairman in 1968. Under his leadership, Pfizer was among the first pharmaceutical companies to institute a multidisciplinary team approach in research and development. Vibramycin® (doxycycline monohydrate, doxycycline hydrochloride hemiethanolate hemihydrate, doxycycline calcium), Navane® (thiothixene capsules), Sinequan® (doxepin HCl), and other important pharmaceutical discoveries of the 1960s and 1970s were a direct result of this innovation. In 1972, the year Powers retired as chairman, the Company achieved the milestone of $1 billion in sales. He continued as a director and honorary chairman until 1983.

In 1996, two years after his death, a newly formed United States Pharmaceutical field force — Powers Rx — was named after him to recognize his numerous achievements, including overseeing the transformation of Pfizer from a domestic Company into a global enterprise.