For those of you who like to watch the comings and goings at the highest ranks at the drugmaker, we thought we would share with you the memo sent by Pfizer ceo Jeff Kindler to announce the impending departure of one of the more visible faces on his team.
As chief medical officer for the past decade or so, Feczko was involved with numerous efforts to champion such drugs as Viagra, Chantix and Celebrex. He was also on hand when Pfizer scuttled development of the torcetrapib cholesterol pill. Prior to his run as cmo, Feczko was senior vp for medical and regulatory operations for global pharmaceuticals (a brief bio). He leaves in a few months after a search for a replacement is conducted.
After 22 years of leadership in advancing Pfizer science - and 26 years total in the global pharmaceuticals business - Joe Feczko, our Chief Medical Officer and a member of the ELT - has decided to retire. I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of Joe's career achievements and to extend our heartfelt thanks to him for his work on behalf of our company, customers and patients.
Joe trained as a specialist in infectious diseases and came to Pfizer's New York headquarters in 1982 to work in International Medical Marketing. In 1986, he moved to our Sandwich research site and ultimately led our clinical development programs in Europe. He spent four years with Glaxo in the U.K. and then returned to Pfizer in 1996. Back in New York, he directed our Medical and Regulatory operations during one of the most productive periods in Pfizer's history. Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex and Geodon/Zeldox all made the leap from the lab to the patient under Joe's leadership. In 2002, in addition to serving as Chief Medical Officer, Joe became president of Worldwide Development, where he built the case for the regulatory approval of medicines such as Chantix/Champix, Lyrica and Sutent.
When I was named ceo in 2006, I asked Joe to join the ELT and continue in his role as Chief Medical Officer. Among his most pressing goals: to improve the dialogue between Pfizer and the physicians who prescribe our medicines. Toward that end, Joe helped Pfizer build on its relationships with many physicians' professional organizations, including the AMA. He was responsible for the Transparency in Grants initiative that made Pfizer a leader in complete disclosure of contributions to U.S.-based patient, scientific and medical organizations. He accomplished an industry first by changing the way we fund Continuing Medical Education credits, removing a source of friction between Pfizer and the medical profession.
Very recently, under Joe's leadership, Pfizer launched a medicine safety web site, devoted to helping everyone, from medical specialists to concerned patients, make informed decisions about prescription medicines. This groundbreaking Web site had more than 20,000 visitors, many of them medical professionals, in its first month of operation.
Joe's absolute commitment to scientific integrity gave him great credibility to speak about medical safety and policy issues. He opened doors for Pfizer with some of our harshest critics and, with his skills in listening and diplomacy, usually found common ground with them. He was unflappable no matter what the situation. During the Vioxx crisis, for example, Joe was instrumental in keeping Celebrex available to patients by affirming, to the media and to regulators, the science behind this medicine. He also helped build and communicate the case for Lipitor as a medicine without peer for many patients. He was a highly valuable counselor when we addressed the fate of torcetrapib. Throughout his career, from the development of Zithromax to the defense of Chantix/Champix, Joe advocated one position and one position only - medical professionals and patients must have accurate, balanced, timely and scientifically grounded information about the benefits and risks of medicines.
As a leader, Joe opened doors for a new generation of doctors and regulatory professionals at Pfizer and in the industry; the many colleagues who benefited from his counsel will be part of Joe's legacy. He also sponsors the Pfizer African-American Leadership Network and serves on the company's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Joe was - and remains - highly engaged in a number of Pfizer's landmark corporate responsibility programs, including the International Trachoma Initiative and Global Health Fellows.
I've asked Joe to stay with Pfizer for several months to help in the transition to his successor. We have commissioned an internal and external search for a new Chief Medical Officer.
I am happy that Joe and his wife, Leighton, will open a new chapter in their lives and ask that you join me in thanking them for all that they have done on behalf of our company and our patients.