More big changes for Wyeth

A spokesperson for Wyeth announced yesterday that it will join the likes of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Merck and--you guessed it --do some major scaling back as part of Project Impact, its cost-cutting program.

The company will slash research, cutting over half of its projects and refocusing on a half-dozen therapeutic areas and 27 diseases. Currently, Wyeth works in 14 therapeutic areas and looks at closer to 60 diseases. The new therapeutic areas Wyeth will focus on are inflammation, metabolic diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, neuroscience and oncology vaccines. It will also place greater reliance on its expertise in complex protein technology to increase its pipeline and strengthen its presence in the biotech and vaccine markets. To that end, the company also announced positive findings in its Prevnar-13 research this week.

"It didn't really make sense for us to try to be successful in all of those different diseases and therapeutic areas," Evan Loh, vice president of medical therapeutics commented. "We needed to have more focus."

Wyeth says it will not make changes in spending on research and development (currently close to $3.2 billion annually) and that it will not be cutting the size of the research staff, although workers without expertise in the new areas of focus will lose their jobs. The company already cut 1,200 U.S. jobs when it announced Project Impact in January.

Company stock prices have dropped by 25 percent this year, but shares rose 7.4 percent to $33.08 yesterday afternoon.

- read the full story at the Wall Street Journal