The leader in pharma sales, Pfizer is well known thanks to several household name drugs, including Lipitor, Advil, Celebrex, Zithromax and the ever-abundant "little blue pill," Viagra. As the company looks at the looming Lipitor patent cliff, CEO Ian Read has been searching for new methods to keep revenue high, other than new approved drugs. Recently, the company has been considering spinning off portions of the company to create smaller, more profitable arms, a polar opposite of former CEO Jeffrey Kindler's bulk-up strategy of years past. The company's past purchases and mergers have included King Pharmaceuticals, Warner-Lambert, SUGEN and a $68 billion purchase, Wyeth, in 2009.

Wyeth provided Pfizer with an influx of 17 new drugs and vaccines, including Enbrel, Effexor, Prevnar and Pristiq, and Pfizer declared the merger made them "one of the most diversified companies in the global health care industry." And the company continues to move forward as it focuses on hot areas, including Alzheimer's, oncology and vaccines.

The company's legal woes have caused headaches as well. Pfizer has paid over $340 million in settlements for its menopause treatment, Prempro and has 1,200 cases pending for the anti-smoking drug Chantix. Back in 2009, it paid $1.3 billion for illegal marketing fines for the painkiller Bextra, making it the largest fine in United States history.

Pfizer has stayed in the top two on FiercePharma's annual layoffs list for the past three years, thanks in part to the company's 2009 megamerger with Wyeth, and the pressure could be felt for another five years. The company also placed second in the Top 15 R&D Budgets, with $7.4 billion in 2009. But those numbers will continue to slip as Pfizer looks towards development deals instead of in-house research.

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Pfizer could buy GSK, but would Shire or Perrigo offer better targets?

The speculation is building this week that Pfizer will either attempt another megadeal with GlaxoSmithKline or another run on AstraZeneca. Either would cut Pfizer's tax rate and give it some products to salve its various ills, lackluster stock price and poor performing portfolio. But the new thinking, like in the last 24 hours, is that smaller deals, perhaps a buyout of Shire or even Perrigo, or both, are better bets.

Hospira recalls solution marked as heparin

Hospira is voluntarily recalling 181,704 bags of magnesium sulfate in 5% dextrose injections because labels on the immediate container may have barcodes indicating that it is instead the blood thinner heparin.

Should Pfizer snap up GSK? Well, a megadeal could speed up a split

Pfizer needs to make a deal--or several. It's obviously amenable to another megamerger, given that it tried to snap up AstraZeneca for more than $100 billion last year. So why not GlaxoSmithKline?

Spurned by AstraZeneca, is Pfizer out for GlaxoSmithKline?

The latest market chatter is that Pfizer, rebuffed in its quest to acquire AstraZeneca last year, is taking a hard look at GlaxoSmithKline, and one analyst says it might be a good idea.

India drug IP laws in spotlight again in local Fresenius Kabi-Pfizer case

India's policy regarding intellectual property protection has bounced back once again to deny an MNC patent challenged by a local drugmaker. This one was filed by the local unit of Fresenius Kabi Oncology against a Pfizer patent.

Relax, J&J--Eliquis may be surging, but Xarelto's safe for now

Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb's new-age anticoagulant, Eliquis, has been ramping up after a slow start. But Johnson & Johnson, maker of market leader Xarelto, need not worry, thanks to that med's wide base of indications and hefty clinical trials program.

Should Eliquis' surge make Xarelto fans very, very afraid? Not really, analyst says

Johnson & Johnson and Bayer are wont to brag about their achievements with Xarelto, one of the new generation of anticoagulant meds. Rightfully so: Though second to that market by many months, the companies grabbed market share from their old standby rival warfarin and their head-to-head competition Pradaxa, too.

Early ASCO winners? Roche and Pfizer, and to a lesser extent, BMS

The curtain is up on the first act of the annual cancer drug lollapalooza at ASCO. The first round of abstracts spotlights a series of early winners--including Roche--and at least one big loser: Puma Biotechnology.

UPDATED: Pfizer gets friendly backing in appeal over blind rep's bid for paid driver

In the department of employee lawsuits, Pfizer is the latest drugmaker in the hot seat. But the seat is hotter for the visually impaired sales rep who sued because the company wouldn't provide a driver to ferry her to doctors' offices.

Big Pharma's a C student, rep study finds, with Bayer at the top, Novartis at bottom

When it comes to Big Pharma's reputation, "average" says it all. That's the story from the research firm Reputation Institute, which perennially puts major drugmakers right smack in the middle of its scorecard. In other words, pharma is a C student.