Pfizer Transfers 100 Jobs to La Jolla Oncology Site as It Closes Facility in South San Francisco

Pfizer sign on outside of office building

Pfizer’s La Jolla cancer research center is set to grow by about 100 people. The pharma giant is transferring employees from a recently shuttered South San Francisco immunology site to bolster the work conducted near San Diego.

The move will bring employment of the La Holla site to about 900, the San Diego Business Journal reported. The employees making the shift to southern California are expected to begin working in La Jolla after the turn of the new year, with all positions reporting by the middle of 2019.

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In a statement to the Journal, Pfizer said the decision to shift the jobs from the Bay Area to La Jolla was part of an effort to “simplify the organizational structure and footprint of our oncology research unit.” By consolidating its oncology programs between the two sites, Pfizer said it will be “better positioned” to take advantage of “the critical mass needed to more rapidly deliver innovative targeted and immunotherapeutic medicines to patients in need.”

Pfizer has had a presence in La Jolla since it acquired Warner Lambert in 2000 for $90 billion. The acquisition brought the 25-acre campus under the Pfizer banner. The campus, according to the company website, includes five buildings totaling more than 500,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities, with specialized laboratories and equipment for structural and computational biology, molecular design, drug metabolism, high throughput chemistry, and pharmacology.

The La Jolla facility has become an important cog in Pfizer’s oncology business. As the San Diego Tribune reported, the facility has had a hand in the development of several approved cancer drugs, including Lorbrena (lorlatinib), a third-generation anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Lorbrena was approved as a treatment for patients who have been diagnosed with ALK-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease has progressed on crizotinib and at least one other ALK inhibitor for metastatic disease, or whose disease has progressed on alectinib or ceritinib as the first ALK inhibitor for metastatic illness.

Lorbrena is a follow-up to its earlier approved ALK inhibitor, Xalkori, which was launched in 2011. Sales of Xalkori have lagged due to increased competition from other drugmakers. Newer ALK inhibitors such as Novartis’ Zykadia and Takeda’s Alunbrig have taken a bite out of Xalkori’s market share.

Also last month, Pfizer snagged approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Daurismo (glasdegib), a once-daily oral medicine, for the treatment of newly-diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in adult patients over the age of 75. Daurismo is taken in combination with low-dose cytarabine (LDAC), a type of chemotherapy.

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