Pfizer Forms $100M Research Partnership with Boston-Area Schools and Hospitals

Xconomy Boston — 

Let’s see if this produces some much-needed new drugs for Pfizer’s pipeline.

The New York City-based pharmaceutical giant (NYSE: PFE) announced today it is starting a five-year, $100 million research collaboration in Boston with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard University, Partners HealthCare, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

The partnerships are part of Pfizer’s broader R&D network, called the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (also in New York and San Francisco), which aim to close the gap between basic research and clinical trials of new drug candidates. Pfizer said it has signed a lease for lab space at the Center for Life Science in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston, which will serve as the headquarters for the R&D network. The Boston program’s $100 million price tag includes support for research programs, potential milestone payments to partners, and operational costs of the new lab.

Back in January, Pfizer announced a research initiative involving seven medical institutions in the New York area. That move, which came on the heels of a similar announcement in San Francisco, was made in conjunction with a new lease at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a biotech park on the East River in Manhattan.

These research partnerships are part of a broader effort by Pfizer to boost its R&D efforts—a mission that’s becoming all the more urgent as its patent for the blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor approaches its expiration later this year (anticipated in November). The challenge of getting new drugs into the pipeline is shared by many other big companies, including Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly, and Merck, and remains a fundamental problem for the pharmaceutical industry.