Pfizer’s long-term immunization activities pay off

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Pfizer’s long-term immunization activities pay off


Pfizer, supported by a huge increase in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and strong first-quarter performance across much of the company, raised its financial guidance for 2021 after sharply exceeding Wall Street expectations.

The company, along with its German partner BioNTech, is now forecasting sustained revenue from their COVID-19 vaccine with the world far from herd immunity to the virus. New contracts for the supply of vaccines to countries until 2024 continue to be signed.

Pfizer Tuesday, nearly doubled its sales forecast for the vaccine this year, from $ 15 billion to about $ 26 billion. The partners expect to be able to deliver about 2.5 billion doses of the vaccine this year, including 300 million doses for the United States, and are already preparing for what could become annual booster shots.

Once considered a marketing machine for blockbusters like Viagra and the cholesterol fighter Lipitor, Pfizer has evolved into a research center for cancer and rare disease drugs – and vaccines.

Pfizer entered the low-profile, low-profit vaccine business in 2009 when it acquired Wyeth and its then experimental pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine, Prevnar, which protects against the ear, bloodstream, and other pneumococcal infections, was approved by the United States the following year. It has become the most lucrative vaccine in the world with annual sales of around $ 5 billion – once unheard of.

“Investors were skeptical of the Wyeth acquisition because vaccines were a sleeping area with a lot of risk and rarely enough rewards to justify spending money on them. Pfizer proved them wrong, ”said Erik Gordon, professor of commerce at the University of Michigan.

Pfizer started to develop more vaccines and to develop its expertise. Then in 2018, he started a partnership with BioNTech focused on creating an influenza vaccine with a then new technology called mRNA. This type of vaccine uses genetic material rather than an inactivated virus to train the immune system to make antibodies if the real virus infects someone.

But while the flu vaccine was still being tested, the coronavirus struck and companies began to use the technology for a vaccine against it. Their vaccine was proven to be over 90% effective and quickly gained emergency country-by-country approval while avoiding the manufacturing delays and safety issues that pique some rivals.

“The partnership with BioNTech has been a stroke of genius or luck,” said Gordon.

Now, the partners are testing a potential booster vaccine and continue to test the two-dose vaccine in new patient groups, including pregnant women, children 12 to 15 years old, and children six months to 11 years old. They are also working on new vaccine formulations with longer shelf life and less stringent deep freezing requirements.

Pfizer is also testing both a pill and another drug injected as COVID-19 treatments.

Pfizer, which splits the costs and benefits of vaccines with BioNTech, achieved first-quarter revenue of $ 3.46 billion in all but three countries; BioNTech will release the remaining revenue on May 10.

Some patient and consumer advocacy groups are now accusing COVID-19 vaccine makers of making a profit because they pledged to stick to nonprofit prices only until the pandemic emergency is over. Some want patents suspended to allow poor countries to get cheaper vaccines sooner.

In a conference call Tuesday, Pfizer noted its three price points for the vaccine, depending on the financial situation of each country. In the USA, Pfizer charges $ 19.50 for each dose, well below what Prevnar and many other vaccines cost here.

Pfizer Tuesday reported quarterly net profit of $ 4.88 billion, or 86 cents per share. That was $ 3.36 billion, or 60 cents a share, at the same time last year, when the global coronavirus pandemic began triggering lockdowns, and as doctor visits, diagnostic tests and new prescriptions for other drugs have dropped dramatically.

Adjusted profit jumped 48% to $ 5.26 billion, or 93 cents per share, well above the 79 cents expected by Wall Street. Revenue was $ 14.58 billion, up 45% and also well above forecast of $ 13.49 billion.

Sales of cancer drugs jumped 18% in the quarter and sales of hospital-administered drugs rebounded 11% as patients received treatment delayed by reluctance to visit hospitals inundated with COVID patients -19. Sales of the anti-clot Eliquis jumped 26% to $ 1.64 billion.

Pfizer now expects annual earnings in the range of $ 3.55 to $ 3.65 per share, up from $ 3.10 to $ 3.20 per share in February, and income in the range of $ 70.5 billion to $ 72.5 billion, up from $ 59.4 billion to $ 61.4 billion in the February forecast.

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