Pfizer ($PFE) chief Kindler retires; Ian Read named new CEO

Citing the exhausting demands of being the chairman and CEO of the world's largest pharma company, Pfizer ($PFE) chief Jeffrey Kindler announced today that he's retired from the top spot after four and a half years. Ian Read (photo), Pfizer's current head of global biopharmaceutical operations, has been the company's new CEO. A new chairman will be selected in the next two weeks.

Kindler commented, "My nearly nine years at Pfizer and, particularly the last four and a half as CEO, have been extremely exciting and rewarding...[T]he combination of meeting the requirements of our many stakeholders around the world and the 24/7 nature of my responsibilities, has made this period extremely demanding on me personally." With Pfizer and Wyeth's first combined year behind him, Kindler felt now was the best time to step down. He plans to take some personal time before deciding his next career move. However, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Tim Anderson tells Bloomberg that Kindler's sudden departure means that it was "highly likely" that he was pushed out of the job, rather than resigned voluntarily.

Kindler faced a tough four years as CEO. Not long after he took the helm, Pfizer announced the stunning failure of cholesterol drug torcetrapib, which was slated to replace bestseller Lipitor when it went off patent. Since then the drugmaker has cut 14,000 jobs and shuttered R&D and manufacturing sites as it faced a decline in its stock price. And the company has suffered other clinical disappointments along the way. It will now fall to Read, who has been with the company since 1978, to navigate the company through Lipitor's patent loss in 2011.

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