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Two top Pfizer Inc. executives to leave

NEW YORK -- Pfizer chief executive Jeffrey Kindler proved even those at the top aren't immune to an ongoing companywide transformation late Sunday in revealing the departure of research and development president John LaMattina and chief financial officer Alan Levin.

The news comes as the world's largest drug maker seeks to cut 10,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, amid a tepid sales outlook in the near term. Kindler, the architect of the company's transformation, became Pfizer Inc.'s chief executive and chairman last year. The 10,000 job cuts were first disclosed in January.

Andy McCormick, a Pfizer spokesman, said the company is not disclosing how many jobs have already been cut, but it is "making progress" on that front. In April, the company said it had "completed a significant reduction and redeployment of the US field force and began the elimination of large numbers of positions in other parts of the company."

LaMattina, 57, will retire from the company by the year-end, Pfizer said. He has been with the company since 1977, and was in charge of keeping Pfizer's product line vital as head of R&D.

Kindler credited LaMattina with building the company's early and midstage drug pipelines. The company has about 50 candidates in early stage development and about 30 in midstage development.

Early stage drugs take an average eight-and-a-half years to make it to a possible Food and Drug Administration approval, and midstage drugs are an average of seven years away.

The company also has drugs in late-stage development to treat obesity, cancers of the lung, skin, and thyroid gland, along with studies on drugs already on the market for four new uses.

Levin, 45, resigned from his finance chief position, and said in a statement that after 20 years of service with Pfizer it was the "appropriate time for me to explore career opportunities outside of the company." He took over as chief financial officer in 2005.

Both will remain at Pfizer during the search for their replacements.

Analysts are skeptical the maker of Lipitor and Viagra can generate enough sales from current and pipeline products to counter billions in sales that will be lost because of expiring patents on key drugs.

The company has suffered late-stage drug setbacks, most recently when its lead drug candidate, the cholesterol treatment torcetrapib, was pulled from development on safety concerns. Also, last year the FDA refused to approve a dosage of the sleep aid indiplon that could have competed with those already on the market.