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With its 2010 acquisition of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer not only expanded its pipeline, it also became the world's largest pharmaceutical company in terms of revenue.


The first product produced by Charles Pfizer & Company, as Pfizer was called at its founding in 1849, was a flavored treatment for intestinal worms, a common problem in that era, according to Pfizer’s history timeline.

Charles Pfizer, a chemist, and his cousin, Charles Erhart, a confectioner, were German immigrants. Their company grew quickly during the Civil War as a supplier of painkillers, preservatives, and disinfectants to the Union Army.

Pfizer established an early toehold overseas, and in 1951 opened operations in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, England, Mexico, Panama, and Puerto Rico. A year later it established an Agricultural Division in Terre Haute, Indiana devoted to animal health products. (When Pfizer purchased SmithKline Beecham's animal health business in 1993, it made Pfizer a world leader in pharmaceuticals for livestock and pets.)

In 1980, Feldene (piroxicam), an anti-inflammatory, became Pfizer's first drug to reach $1 billion in sales in the United States, according to company literature.


Over the last decade, Pfizer has been the subject of numerous federal investigations and fines for off-label marketing of drugs. It paid $2.3 billion in fines in 2009 for off-label marketing of drugs, including a record $1.3 billion fine for illegal marketing of Bextra, a pain killer.

In June 2010 Pfizer withdrew Mylotarg, a leukemia drug that had been on the U.S. market for 10 years, after the drug was lined to deaths from liver complications.

At A Glance:

Revenues: $48,296 (does not reflect the integration of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals)
Profits: $8.1 billion
Workforce: 81,800 employees in 150 countries
Headquarters: New York, NY
Chief Executive Officer - Ian C. Read
Chief Financial Officer - Frank A. D'Amelio
Corporate Executive - Mikael Dolsten

Stock Listings

The company is listed on the New York (NYSE:PFE), London (PFZ), Euronext and Swiss stock exchanges.


The company is organized under Biopharmaceutical and Diversified Business units.

Executive leadership emphasizes that the company is focusing on developing new drugs for Alzheimer’s pain, inflammation, vaccines and biologics.

At $11.4 billion in annual sales, Pfizer's Lipitor, the cholesterol fighting drug, is one of the world's top-selling medicines but will lose its patent in November 2011. Other top selling drugs are Viagra, the first treatment for erectile dysfunction, Effexor XR for depression, and Chantix for smoking cessation.


Pfizer has about 500 products in development, many of them in the early stages of discovery, according to its most recent annual report. As of late 2010, the Pfizer pipeline included 26 drugs in phase 3 trials and nine under regulatory review.

Acquisitions and Collaborations:

With so many of its blockbusters going off-patent, Pfizer has concentrated on acquiring companies with strong potential to develop new drug treatments, invested in emerging markets and partnered with generic manufacturers.

Examples of this strategy:

In January 2010 Pfizer announced a collaboration with Bangalore, India-based Strides Arcolab, a generic manufacturer, to distribute 40 generic injectible and oral products, including many off-patent oncology products in the U.S. market.

Pfizer acquired FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company focusing on drug discovery for protein misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and type 2 diabetes, in October 2010.

Pfizer acquired Wyeth Pharmaceuticals -- a $68 billion purchase -- in 2009 to increase its research capabilities in small molecules, vaccines and biopharmaceuticals.

In 2010, Pfizer launched an Orphan and Genetic Diseases Research Unit to focus on developing drugs for rare diseases.


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