NEW YORK: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is to slash its 11,000-strong US sales force by 20% before the end of the year. The cuts are part of an ongoing $4 billion (€3.03bn; £2.05bn) cost-saving strategy designed to be complete by 2008.

Projected flat sales for the next two years and a need to offset the loss of key patents have prompted the move. Ceo Jeff Kindler is expected to unveil further action for revitalizing the company in early 2007.

Pfizer says the reduction in sales representatives will not affect its ability to sell its drugs.

Analysts say that while the cuts will help in the short term, research and development of 'blockbuster' medicines, such as cholesterol treatment Lipitor, are the key to remaining profitable.

Data sourced from USA; additional content by WARC staff