Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Cluster**** at Pfizer R&D

So Pfizer finally settled on its lead internal candidate Dr. Martin Mackay, to lead its research labs (PGRD). But looks like their CEO Jeff Kindler hedged his bets a bit. Pfizer is going to run a biotech startup out of San Franciso headed by Dr. Corey Goodman. According to Pfizer's press release Dr. Goodman will also report to Mr. Kindler. Dr. Mackay's leash however was shortened a bit by Mr Kindler. Dr. Briggs Morrison from Merck was hired as Dr. Mackay's top deputy overseeing all of clinical development. Should Dr. Mackay screw up, Dr Morrison will be ready, willing and able to take over.

Mr. Kindler may be hedging his bets with a structure like this but Pharmalyst thinks that with this approach, Mr. Kindler is being more of a lawyer than a manager. This convoluted cluster of their R&D organization has no single point of accountability - no one head of R&D with whom the buck stops. Dr. Mackay was probably hired so as to not upset their mid-stage pipeline which if they are to be believed, is looking strong (it probably also helped that no outsider was willing to step into this clusterf***).

Mid-stage pipeline aside, there could be serious problems longer term. The biotech in San Francisco could blame the R&D organization for not supporting its ideas enough & the R&D group could blame the biotech. Two strong executives in this sort of a role is ripe for ego clashes etc. A powerful strong deputy like Dr. Morrison could also end up looking over the shoulder of his boss & second guessing him all the time. So from an organizational theory standpoint, this new approach could have serious problems.

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