The Covid sales boom is over for Pfizer
By Paul R. La Monica, CNN
Pfizer generated nearly $57 billion in combined sales last year from its Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine and Paxlovid antiviral pill. That works out to almost 60% of the company’s total revenue for 2022. But the boom appears to be over.
Pfizer told Wall Street Tuesday that it expects Covid-related sales to plunge to $21.5 billion this year… below Wall Street’s forecasts. Shares of Pfizer were up slightly despite the news. BioNTech, which partners with Pfizer to make and sell the vaccine, was up about 1% as well.
But a big part of the problem for Pfizer, as well as vaccine rival Moderna, is that public health care agencies already had an ample supply of vaccines and pills to help prevent the spread of Covid and treat those who contract the virus.
The company also is now factoring in zero revenue for Paxlovid from China after April 1, since the Chinese government is removing the antiviral pill from its list of treatments that are eligible for reimbursement as part of its national insurance program.
Pfizer noted that it now expects to sell just $13.5 billion of its vaccine and $8 billion of the Paxlovid pill this year. Wall Street was expecting vaccine revenue of $14.4 billion and $10.3 billion of Paxlovid for 2023, according to estimates tracked by Refinitiv.
Pfizer reported Comirnaty sales of $37.8 billion last year and revenue of $18.9 billion from Paxlovid.
Pfizer said in its earnings release that sales from Covid products are expected to rise again in 2024 “after reaching a low point in 2023 due to significant government supply on hand to start the year.”
Still, as the world adapts to the fact that Covid is not going away, Pfizer is going to try to find new blockbuster medications.
“Our focus is always on what is next. As we turn to 2023, we expect to once again set records, with potentially the largest number of new product and indication launches that we’ve ever had in such a short period of time,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in the earnings press release.
Pfizer has completed a series of acquisitions over the past few years in order to gain access to promising new medications. It spent about $25 billion to buy Biohaven Pharmaceutical, Arena Pharmaceuticals and Global Blood Therapeutics.
Pfizer now has several cancer and inflammatory disease drugs in its pipeline as well as a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
But Wall Street is growing impatient.
Shares of Pfizer are down more than 15% so far in 2023, following a 13% drop last year. The stock surged more than 60% in 2021 due to strong sales for its vaccine.
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