Pfizer Inc, the world's biggest drug maker, wants to expand its research and development activities in Asia, targeting China, India, Japan, and South Korea, an executive said on Friday. Pfizer, who makes blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor and the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, opened a research centre in Shanghai in 2005 and aims to expand clinical research activities globally, with nearly 80 studies ongoing.
Martin Mackay, the company's president of global research and development, said Asia was key to the company because its pharmaceutical market would grow to US$200 billion by 2017.
"China is going to be really important to us, the Shanghai centre is going to be exceptionally important," Mackay told Reuters on the sidelines of an investors' meeting in Hong Kong. "We are looking at Korea, India and other countries."
Mackay gave no further details of the expansion plans, but said he was impressed with the progress made by Pfizer's
Shanghai R&D centre since it opened two years ago. The centre has about 200 staff.
"We have grown very quickly in Shanghai," Mackay said, adding contributions to revenue from the Chinese market were small but expected to grow fast.
The drug maker has announced a US$300 million investment in research and development in South Korea over the next five years to develop drugs and medical technology.
Pfizer, which claims to rank first in Asia pharmaceutical market sales for the 12 months to June 2007, has a manufacturing plant in the Chinese city of Dalian and collaborates on research with Peking University and Tsinghua University. The company announced a sharp fall in third-quarter earnings due to a $2.8 billion charge to end its involvement with the poorly selling inhaled insulin drug Exubera.