Pfizer Ends Hunt for Drugs to Treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

By Jonathan D. RockoffFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Pfizer Inc. said Saturday it will stop trying to discover new drugs for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, abandoning costly but futile efforts to find effective treatments for the disorders.

The cutback will result in layoffs of 300 employees in Cambridge and Andover in Massachusetts and in Groton, Conn., over several months, according to a company statement.

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The restructuring won't affect later-stage drug development for pain treatments Lyrica and tanezumab, or research into drugs for rare neurological diseases, Pfizer said.

The company plans to use the savings to fund drug R&D in other areas. "This was an exercise to reallocate [spending] across our portfolio, to focus on those areas where our pipeline, and our scientific expertise, is strongest," it said.

Pfizer also said it plans to establish a corporate venture fund to invest in promising neuroscience projects outside the company.

Like several peers, Pfizer has invested heavily in developing treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's because of the huge need, but met disappointment when once-promising compounds failed to work during testing.

Notably, in 2012, Pfizer and partner Johnson & Johnson halted development of an Alzheimer's drug called bapineuzumab after it failed to slow memory loss in test subjects.

Other companies, such as AstraZeneca PLC, Biogen Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co., keep pursuing Alzheimer's treatment, but analysts consider the projects very risky.

Write to Jonathan D. Rockoff at Jonathan.Rockoff@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2018 14:55 ET (19:55 GMT)