PFIZER chief Jeffrey Kindler has resigned, it was unexpectedly announced late Sunday night.
Kindler, 55, cited personal reasons for stepping down, yet close sources believe he was pushed after major hits to the company’s prospects.
As patents on Pfizer’s blockbuster drugs expire, several new drugs have been scrapped from the development process, observers say.
Next year the cholesterol fighting medication Lipitor loses its US patent protection. The drug delivered $11.4bn (£7.3bn) in sales last year.
Under Kindler’s leadership the drugs giant acquired Wyeth in order to add “valuable in-line and pipeline products,” the company said.
Pfizer’s stock price is down about 30 per cent since 2006.
And Kindler was a leading figure in pharma’s deal with Democrats over controversial healthcare reforms.
News of the resignation followed Pfizer’s formation of a new compliance committee to monitor corporate governance.
Last year the company was fined $2.3bn (£1.47bn) for breaking marketing rules on the use of several drugs.
A shareholder lawsuit then accused the company’s board, including Kindler, of failing to stop the illegal marketing practices, although the company denied the claims.
Kindler will be replaced immediately by Ian Read, former head of global biopharmaceutical operations.