Game change: Pfiz­er dou­bles down on its late-stage pipeline as CEO Read dis­avows a long re­liance on M&A deals

For years, Pfiz­er CEO Ian Read stout­ly in­sist­ed that a “trans­for­ma­tive” merg­er with an­oth­er ma­jor bio­phar­ma play­er was a com­plete­ly vi­able way to achieve growth — even as in­dus­try in­sid­ers hoot­ed about the R&D de­struc­tion that in­evitably fol­lowed pre­vi­ous big league tie-ups.

For Pfiz­er $PFE, which nev­er was bur­dened much with a rep for in­no­va­tion in ear­ly-stage re­search, M&A was seen as per­haps its on­ly shot at near-term growth — aside from the an­nu­al price hikes Read was sure to push through, un­til his show­down with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

But now, in a big shift with large im­pli­ca­tions for M&A and the rest of the in­dus­try, Read is em­brac­ing the com­pa­ny’s late-stage pipeline as a near-term growth en­gine. And the CEO is step­ping up his in­vest­ment in R&D to po­si­tion it along­side the biggest play­ers on the plan­et, while stag­ing a strate­gic re­treat from M&A deals.

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