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Pfizer to Shutter Clinical Research Unit in Singapore

By Zachary Brennan , 11-Feb-2013

As part of wider R&D cuts, Pfizer will close its clinical research unit in Singapore later this year and lay off about 30 employees. 

The closure comes as the company recently ceased research programs in Sandwich, U.K., and relocated research away from its Connecticut base. The cuts in Singapore will not impact Pfizer’s other operations in the country or elsewhere in Asia and laid off employees “may apply for open positions” elsewhere within the company, spokeswoman Joan Campion told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

This decision was made as part of Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development’s ongoing comprehensive effort to increase operational efficiencies and to create a more focused and sustainable R&D engine,” Campion said.

Established in 2000 and expanded in 2007, the unit is one of three Phase I clinical research facilities operated by Pfizer globally. In 2009, the unit conducted nearly half of all Phase I clinical trials in Singapore, according to the company. The company still has Phase I clinical research facilities in Brussels, Belgium and New Haven, Conn.

Shift to China

The move to shutter a research unit in Singapore might signal a shift away from the island and more toward China.  Pfizer recently set up a joint venture with Hisun to develop and manufacture drugs locally in China.

But the push in China comes as other multinational companies ramp up investments in Singapore. Amgen recently announced a $200m investment in a biomanufacturing facility there, and Novartis in November also announced a $500m investment in a manufacturing facility. In addition, Sanofi and Abbott have regional headquarters in Singapore.

But Pfizer hasn't cut all of its ties to Singapore. The company still has two manufacturing facilities there – one that makes active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and another that makes nutritional products for infants and children. The API plant is the company’s only API facility in Asia.

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