Researchers in the St. Louis area played a key role in developing anti-inflammatory medications such as Celebrex and other drugs for Pharmacia Corp. before New York-based Pfizer Inc. acquired the company in 2003. Pfizer maintained research operations in St. Louis after the purchase because of the city's reputation as a center for developing biologics, including growth hormones and inhaled insulin, and small-molecule medicines used to treat arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and respiratory diseases, according to Edward Bryant, Pfizer's senior adviser of public affairs. The Gateway City also is home to the highly regarded Washington University School of Medicine, which has contributed to new drug research.
Considering the St. Louis region a strategic location for developing new drugs, Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical manufacturer with 2005 revenues of $51.3 billion, began construction last November on a $200 million research building at its Chesterfield, Mo., campus. The new four-story, 330,000-square-foot building will consolidate research operations scattered throughout the St. Louis area into one location when construction is completed in late 2008.
About 200 researchers located in Creve Coeur, Mo., and another 50 in St. Louis will move to the Chesterfield campus, where about 950 researchers and support personnel already work, according to Bryant. The new research building will be located at the northwest area of the campus and will link to an existing building via a four-story glass-walled hallway. The move is designed to enable more collaboration among scientists, Bryant says.
"When we bring people together that have very different disciplines . . . that's when real innovation happens -- when we're together as opposed to being spread out over a 10- to 15-mile radius," he explains.
The building will feature state-of-the-art labs and equipment, Bryant says.
John LaMattina, Pfizer's president of Global Research and Development, says these up-to-date features will help researchers. "The high-tech building that will rise here will further the efforts of our St. Louis colleagues to develop new medicines," LaMattina said when the new building was announced.
Daniel P. Getman, vice president and St. Louis site director, agrees that increased collaboration among researchers will result in more drug development.
"Our goal for several years has been to create a unified and integrated research and development site that would bring all of our scientific work to a single location. This will strengthen our ability to deliver new medicines."
About two-thirds of the researchers that will occupy the building are developing small-molecule medicines while another one-third are working on biologics, according to Bryant.
"Pfizer has located its global center of emphasis for biologics development here in St. Louis during the early development stage process, so what that means is any biologics compound that's discovered within our global R&D operations, if it's determined that the compound will go into clinical trials, it comes to St. Louis during the early development stage process," Bryant explains.