Strong sales of its Covid-19 vaccine and other medicines helped Pfizer nearly double its second-quarter revenue and boost its profit an impressive 59 per cent, beating Wall Street expectations and leading the drug giant to sharply hike its 2021 sales and profit forecasts.
Amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, the Covid-19 vaccine became Pfizer's top seller, bringing in nearly half its revenue — US$7.84 billion (NZ$11.27b) from direct sales and revenue split with its partner, Germany's BioNTech.
Pfizer now anticipates revenue from the two-dose vaccine this year to reach US$33.5b for the 2.1 billion doses it's contracted to provide by year-end. That doesn't include a contract struck last week to provide an additional 200 million doses to the US.
The New York company on Wednesday disclosed that ongoing testing of a booster shot, given six months after the second vaccine dose, showed it raised antibody levels against the more-transmissible Delta variant to 11 times higher in older people and five times higher in younger people, compared to levels after two doses. The company also released data showing that six months after vaccination, the shots were 97 per cent effective in preventing severe disease.
"We are quite convinced that a booster will be needed," CEO Albert Bourla said in an interview, adding that a third dose of the original vaccine could be sufficient. Still, Pfizer in August will start testing in volunteers a booster targeting the Delta variant, because "there's so much at stake, you can't take risks."
Pfizer has delivered more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine globally and expects to make 3 billion doses this year, with many more going to low- and middle-income countries from now through year's end, Bourla said. Most doses of all the Covid-19 vaccines produced in Europe and the U.S. so far have gone to wealthy countries.
By the end of September, testing in 5- through 11-year-old volunteers should produce the safety and efficacy data needed to seek emergency use authorisation in that age group, and data on testing in children from 6 months to 5 years old should follow soon after, according to Pfizer.
The US Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing data that could lead to full approval of the vaccine for adults, which Bourla said might reduce hesitancy to be vaccinated.
Second-quarter net income was US$5.56b, or 98 cents per share, up from US$3.49b, or 62 cents per share.
Adjusted income, excluding one-time gains and losses, amounted to US$6.08b, or US$1.07 per share, well above the 97 cents that Wall Street had expected.
Its quarterly revenue of US$18.98b far exceeded last year's US$9.86b, and also topped projections.
Pfizer shares rose US$1.46, or 3.5 per cent, to $43.56, near a 52-week high.
Sales jumped by double digits for Pfizer's drugs for cancer and rare diseases, as well as its medicines primarily used in hospitals. Sales of Eliquis, for preventing blood clots and strokes, jumped 16 per cent to US$1.48b, while Ibrance sales edged up 4 per cent to $1.4b in the quarter.
Pfizer's pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13 — until now the world's most lucrative vaccine — saw sales climb 11 per cent to US$1.24 billion amid the pandemic. The company won US approval in June for an updated version for adults, Prevnar 20, that protects against seven more strains of pneumococcal disease.
In May, Pfizer and partner Myovant got approval for Myfembree, for reducing heavy menstrual bleeding due to uterine fibroids in premenopausal women.
Pfizer research head Mikael Dolsten outlined eight major research programs with potential for major impact on public health, including a pill to treat Covid-19 and vaccines against Lyme disease and respiratory syncytial virus, which each year infects more than 5 per cent of older adults and kills about 15,000 of them in the US.
Pfizer now expects adjusted full-year earnings in the range of US$3.95 to US$4.05 per share, up from its May forecast of US$3.55 to US$3.65 per share, and revenue in the range of US$78 billion to US$80 billion, up from US$70.5 billion to US$72.5 billion.
- Associated Press