Pfizer is willing to acquire a large rival drugs company to improve its financial health, in a move that could trigger a fresh round of mergers within the sector. Pfizer’s CEO Jeff Kindler told the Financial Times that the group is open to acquisitions. Any large-scale acquisition by Pfizer could drive a fresh round of consolidation in the sector, as other companies await the U.S. group’s move before responding with deals of their own. Unlike most other sectors in the current downturn, pharmaceuticals boasts many companies that can still fund deals through substantial cash reserves. The CEO’s remarks reflect Pfizer’s strong need to compensate for a forecasted sharp drop in sales as its existing patented drugs become exposed to competition. These include anti-cholesterol treatment Lipitor, the world’s top selling medicine with more than $13 billion in annual sales, on which exclusivity ends in 2011. Investors have argued that Pfizer could strengthen its expansion into biological medicines by purchasing Amgen, the largest independent quoted U.S. biotech group, which has developed a range of promising medicines.