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Our recent announcement to end our discovery and early clinical development efforts in neuroscience has been an extremely difficult decision and one that we have not taken lightly. We recognize the immense disappointment in the broader community, and we share this; at a personal level, many of us have seen first-hand the devastation of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. More than anything, we wanted to succeed in finding a meaningful therapy.
Pfizer scientists have worked for decades to advance potential therapies for these devastating diseases. Their dedication to find meaningful therapies for patients has been unwavering – for some, finding a potential cure has been their life’s work. And their efforts have vastly contributed to the broad scientific understanding of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. However, after our internal programs faced continual setbacks, we had to come to terms with the fact that our research efforts were simply not making the progress necessary to translate into truly transformational therapies for patients.
While our efforts were not successful, we have full faith in the broader scientific community that meaningful therapies can and will be discovered in the long-term. That is why Pfizer plans to create a venture fund, with the specific goal of investing in biotech companies conducting promising neuroscience research, particularly in areas of unmet need. Although it is humbling to admit, we believe that supporting others who are making greater strides in breaking the neuroscience code is the best way that we can make a difference.
This decision was driven by science; not cost. As the fourth largest investor in pharmaceutical research and development worldwide, we expect limited impact, if any, to our overall investment in R&D as a result of this decision. Our reallocation of funding will allow us to place greater focus on areas where we believe we have the strongest possibility of bringing important therapies and vaccines to patients in the near term. This includes promising therapies in other areas where there is a strong unmet patient need, including potential new breakthrough treatments for cancer, vaccine candidates for devastating infections such as Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus, new approaches to chronic inflammatory diseases, potential therapies for debilitating diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, potential non-opioid pain treatments for chronic pain conditions and potential medicines to combat the growing epidemic in NASH or fatty liver disease.
Our internal mission as a research and development team is “Science for Life-Changing Impact,” and that’s what thousands of Pfizer scientists come to work each day to carry out. While these decisions are never easy, it’s ultimately our responsibility to make decisions that will enable us to meet this mission, and to translate scientific advances into transformational therapies for patients.
Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., President of Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development