Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler has penned a deal with the South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare to develop drugs and medical technology alongside local R&D centres, taking advantage of the lower-costs in the country. According to the ministry, it is the largest single investment in South Korea by a foreign company. Many of the world's pharma companies are increasing outsourcing in an attempt to reign-in spiralling drug development costs. "There have been no independent R&D centers set up by a multinational pharmaceutical company like the one planned by Pfizer,'' said Lim Jin Kyun, an analyst with Daewoo Securities in Seoul, according to a report on Bloomberg. "In the past, Korean hospitals and clinical researchers just took part in clinical research for new medicines of multinational drugmakers.'' Novartis, Eli Lilly, Genentech, Lonza, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are among those who have both set up R&D centres in Asia - in this case in China. However, in January, Pfizer announced it would close several R&D facilities, naming one in Japan as a possibility. At the very least, the centre is being scaled back. Then, in March, a report in the Nikkei newspaper claimed GSK will follow Pfizer's example and close its research base in Tsukuba, relocating the 100 scientists employed there to the development division of its Japanese subsidiary. The news comes as Kindler is on a three day visit to Korea this week. Having arrived on Tuesday, the Pfizer top-dog is scheduled to visit various research institutes in South Korea before heading to North Korea tomorrow to visit Kaesong Hospital, along with some 40 other Pfizer officials. The visit is sure to raise a few eyebrows given America's relationship with North Korea.