Pfizer’s $19-Million-A-Year CEO Eliminates Alzheimer’s Research, Cuts 300 Jobs

SEC documents indicate Pfizer praised Ian Read for his dedication to research.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read eliminated his company's Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease research
Jacquelyn Martin / AP Images

SEC documents indicate Pfizer praised Ian Read for his dedication to research.

In a move that will cost approximately 300 people their jobs, Pfizer’s CEO Ian Read shut down his company’s research into cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

In a statement sent to NPR, Pfizer officials said they were reallocating their spending to “areas where we have strong scientific leadership and that will allow us to provide the greatest impact for patients.”

The decision comes despite Pfizer’s continued financial success, with the company reporting $53 billion in earnings in 2016 and providing pay packages worth more than $40 million to their top five officials, according to a definitive proxy statement filed in March with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The statement provides an explanation for the amount spent for executive compensation.

Among Read’s accomplishments that helped him earn his money during 2016 was the “well-received corporate slogan” he created — “Drive to Discover the Cure.

Read was also credited with demonstrating Pfizer’s commitment to research and innovation.

For those accomplishments and others, Read received an $18,917,470 pay package, including a base salary of $1,917,000, an annual bonus of $4 million, and an equity award of $13 million, according to the proxy statement.

Even though he was already making that much money, that total does not include some of the perks Read receives, which were also spelled out in the statement.

Read has access to a car and driver, flies the company jet, and receives $10,000 a year for financial counseling. Pfizer also pays for his home security system.

The perks add up to another $192,274, according to the statement.

While the 300 people who will lose their jobs as a result of Read’s decision to end his company’s search for cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease will receive severance packages, those packages pale in comparison to what Read is guaranteed if he is sent packing.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read receive praise ended Alzheimer's, Parkinson's research.
  Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Images

The definitive proxy statement spells out a severance agreement that would pay Read at least $14 million.

The decision to call off the research is not coming at a time when the company is closing in on cures for those diseases. Pfizer called off its last effort on a drug to combat Alzheimer’s, a joint venture with Johnson & Johnson on the drug bapineuzumab, in 2012 after two rounds of clinical trials.

While Pfizer, a company that has spent millions to research and develop successful products, including Viagra, is closing the door on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, other companies, including AstraZeneca PLC, Biogen Inc., and Eli Lilly & Co., are continuing their research.