Pfizer Japan staffs up for brand, generic launches

As Pfizer lays off and shuts down in the U.S. and Europe, it will be beefing up big-time in Japan. Tapped today to lead Pfizer Japan, Ichiro Umeda told a press briefing that no jobs will be cut in his country as Pfizer absorbs Wyeth. The company needs those workers to handle sales of a wider product range.

Indeed, Pfizer plans to expand its Japanese sales force dedicated to branded products. After the company finishes merging its Pfizer and Wyeth operations in Japan--by September 2010, the company said--it will have a sales force of nearly 2,900, Reuters reports. But even that won't be enough to handle the launch of the new products Pfizer expects Japan to approve for marketing. Seven drugs are now under review, including cancer and anti-inflammatory meds.

Meanwhile, as announced last month, Pfizer will be setting up a new unit to sell 68 generic and off-patent meds in Japan beginning as soon as 2011. "Japan wants quality assurance and credibility for generic medicines and Pfizer has them," said Hiroshi Matsumori, Pfizer Japan's head of off-patent and generic drugs (as quoted by Bloomberg). "Our contracts with suppliers outside Japan will help cut the costs of such medicines." More details about Pfizer's plans for generics in Japan will be forthcoming after the first of the year.

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