Pfizer names Ian Read CEO after Kindler steps down
NEW YORK: Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker, named Ian C. Read chief executive officer as the company prepares to face generic competition to its top-selling cholesterol treatment Lipitor.
Read, 57, the head of Pfizer's global biopharmaceutical operations since 2006, replaces Jeffrey B. Kindler, who has retired, the New York-based company said in a statement yesterday. Kindler, 55, was named CEO on July 28, 2006. Since then, the shares have fallen 35 percent to $16.73, as of Dec. 3 in New York Stock Exchange trading.
Pfizer will lose patent protection in the U.S. next year for Lipitor, which had $11.4 billion in sales last year. While the drugmaker moved to make up for the loss by paying $68 billion last year to acquire Wyeth, adding the Enbrel arthritis treatment and Prevnar pneumonia vaccine, it also has had four setbacks this year in developing its research pipeline. "It hasn't been an easy ride for him," Les Funtleyder, a Miller Tabak & Co. portfolio manager in New York, said of Kindler, in a telephone interview. "The stock has underperformed. Pharma in general and Pfizer in particular have had a tough couple of years."
Both Funtleyder and Tim Anderson, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in San Francisco, said they think the shares will rise as a result of the change. "The departure is sudden but I doubt there was one event per se that caused Kindler's" retirement, Anderson said in an e-mail. It is "highly likely he was pushed." Ray Kerins, a Pfizer spokesman, declined to comment on the timing of the changeover. Last month, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. halted a trial of their experimental blood thinner, apixaban, after an increase in bleeding outweighed benefits for patients who recently suffered a heart attack or severe chest pain. -Bloomberg