From Regional to Global: How Pfizer reworked the pharmaceutical business model

22-Mar-2010 - USA

Jorge Puente, Regional President of WW Pfizer gave an inside look into how Pfizer became global. He explained to Adam Burns, Editor in Chief of, that the fact he did not know there was a Pfizer international office until they invited him to do a lecture, really became a telltale sign that change needed to take place at the pharmaceutical giant. Jorge went on to develop the example by supplying the underlying corporate culture that lead Pfizer International to generate more revenues then Pfizer US. The ability to “have this customer oriented philosophy where we are there for the customer first” was the basis for change.

When Pfizer looked globally at providing medication the need to look at the needs of patients in regions becomes a much greater challenge then looking at providing a blanket of solutions. Jorge cited the example of diabetes in the US, as opposed to Asia, to show why going global needed to be though about differently.

“If you look at diabetics in the West, your typical type two diabetic tends to be overweight, and hyperinsulinemic. In many Asian countries, diabetics are very different and tend to be hypoinsulinemic”. This means that the same medication cannot be provided across multiple regions based on same diagnosis.

“Sometimes for one patient there is a benefit/risk ratio that may be different for another patient. Obviously that changes with geography because conditions are also very geographically determined.” This is one of the very basic concepts that Jorge described as translating from medical to corporate management.

To manage many different geographical medical solutions Pfizer became “a collection of small units”, each one of those completely focused on a specific area. So one unit in Asia would focus primarily on oncology and be “100 percent accountable within that unit for all decisions that are being made in the cancer space” and this is done in conjunction with global executives in Pfizer as well as governmental executives in the specific region, in this case Asia.

These corporate changes have allowed Pfizer the flexibility to reach any region globally, as well as the speed in which to make changes and implement programs: but does that translate to the patient trusting Pfizer? Possibly not, given that Jorge agreed only 42 percent of people trust the healthcare industry to do the right thing, a drop of 16 percent from last year.

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