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20 Years After Viagra, Pfizer To Develop Another Miracle Drug Amid Budget Cuts

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Twenty years after Viagra, Pfizer is looking at a possibility to manufacture another miracle drug in hopes to boost sales and reduce budget constraints.

As the world's second most profitable biopharmaceutical company, Pfizer said it is investing $7.4 to $7.9 billion this year for research and development compared to the $7.7 billion last year. Rivals Merck and Johnson & Johnson are looking to spend at least $10 billion in the same area of business.

In January this year, Pfizer has concluded its research on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and has laid off at least 300 workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts combined. The company's axing of its neurosciences division is in line with the efforts to refocus its assets to focus on "those areas where ... [their] scientific expertise is strongest."

"We recognize that neuroscience is an area of tremendous unmet need for patients and we plan to create a dedicated neuroscience venture fund to support continued efforts to advance the field," Pfizer said in a statement.

In addition, Pfizer hinted that it wants to sell popular drugs such as Advil, multivitamins Centrum, and ChapStick lip balm. In 2013, it sold its license of the anti-NGF drug tanezumab to Indiana-headquartered Eli Lilly for $1.7 billion.

Mitigating Risks

To mitigate current budget constraints, Pfizer announced its impending collaboration with Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as research centers and universities in the areas of oncology and immunology.

Pfizer remains positive that it can survive its financial challenges, given that some of its drugs such as the anti-cholesterol Lipitor, the anti-depressant Zoloft, and the anti-inflammatory Celebrex continue to bring in sales.

Following the success of Viagra, a company representative said Pfizer is working on 15 new drugs that will be delivered over the next five years. This is despite slow revenue projections, totaling a slightly lower $52.5 billion in 2017. Market experts said Pfizer might be able to increase revenue at 5 percent this year, although that is as much as it could probably get.

Generic vs. Branded

Pfizer's financial plight is not unique in the pharmaceutical industry. The introduction of new generic drugs with the consumer preference over branded products has been a challenge for similar companies.

In spite of failed acquisition of AstraZeneca and Allergan, Pfizer was able to expand its current product lines for prostate cancer and eczema. In 2016, the company bought Medivation and Anacor to add to Xtandi and Eucrisa.

A year prior, Pfizer purchased Illinois-based Hospira, a leading provider of infusion technologies including IV solutions, smart pumps, and pain management and safety software.

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