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Merck, Pfizer Research Strategies Diverge on Spending

New chief executive officers at Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc., torn between profit demands of investors and the long-term funding needs of drug innovation, have chosen opposing strategies for future investment in research.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read said this week he will cut the drugmaker’s research budget by a third to $6.5 billion to $7 billion over two years. Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier today projected spending this year of $8.1 billion to $8.5 billion and withdrew the company’s long-term profit forecast to prop up research.