Pfizer CEO Plots Innovation-Focused Overhaul Aimed at Drug Discovery Breakthroughs

Samantha Miller

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, is leading a bold effort to change the famous drug company into a more flexible, research-driven medicine maker that uses cutting-edge science and new technologies to make things happen.

Bourla became CEO of Pfizer in 2019 and has been in the business for a long time. He has pushed for the company to change its focus from making medicines and vaccines to curing diseases that couldn’t be handled before to developing new drugs and vaccines.

His vision is based on taking big risks with new technologies like gene therapy, immunology drugs, and artificial intelligence that can help Pfizer become a leader in innovation again.

One important part of Bourla’s plan was to merge Pfizer’s off-patent generics business Upjohn with a competitor, Mylan, in 2020 to make Viatris a separate company.

Bourla wants to put money into the risky but necessary process of making groundbreaking new medicines by splitting off old drugs whose sales are going down.

With this huge move, Bourla can make sure that Pfizer only uses an R&D-led method to drug discovery. With Upjohn’s departure, Pfizer no longer has to worry about the slowly falling profits of old blockbusters.

Instead, it can put its money into new platforms that could produce the next big treatments.

The main thing that Bourla is doing to change Pfizer’s scientific stance is to quickly add AI and machine learning features that will make finding and testing drug candidates faster and cheaper.

Bourla is placing a lot of faith that AI can speed up the process of getting new drugs from the lab to drugstore shelves, which used to take years and be very slow.

Pfizer now uses AI to look through billions of possible chemical mixtures to find ones that might work against specific diseases. Model mistakes can be caught earlier with machine learning, which helps avoid costly late-stage flops.

Automation also speeds up important but boring jobs that need to be done over and over again, like profiling patient DNA and processing trial data.

Bourla thinks that AI and automation can help bring out up to 19 new goods in just 18 months, whereas that might have taken four years before.

The increased efficiency frees up human researchers to do more important research that leads to even more new ideas.

Now that Pfizer has locked in its new focus on developing cutting-edge drugs, Bourla is looking for new possibilities in areas where there aren’t many treatments available yet.

A lot of people are interested in making compounds that can help fight obesity, which is related to other therapy fields that make a lot of money, like diabetes and heart disease.

Bourla thinks that by 2030, the world market for effective treatments for obesity could grow to a huge $100 billion. Even though it’s risky, figuring out how to make better weight loss drugs could give you a chance to own an area that hasn’t been used much yet but could bring in a lot of money.

These moves show Bourla’s risky plan to make Pfizer a place where the best scientists in the world want to work together to find breakthroughs that will change medicine as we know it.

If Bourla’s vision comes true, it would solidify Pfizer’s position as a giant in research and development, able to regularly create groundbreaking drugs that make a huge difference in the world’s health care.

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Samantha Miller is a business and finance journalist with over 10 years of experience covering the latest news and trends shaping the corporate landscape. She began her career at The Wall Street Journal, where she reported on major companies and industry developments. Now, Samantha serve as a senior business writer for, profiling influential executives and providing in-depth analysis on business and financial topics.
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