Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on course to rank among top-selling medicines

Company now expects vaccine to bring in €28.4bn in revenue this year

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it would approach US regulators for authorisation of a third booster dose, based on early data showing that it can sharply increase immune protection against coronavirus. Photograph: Javier Torres/AFP

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it would approach US regulators for authorisation of a third booster dose, based on early data showing that it can sharply increase immune protection against coronavirus. Photograph: Javier Torres/AFP

 

Pfizer now expects its Covid-19 vaccine to bring in $33.5 billion (€28.4 billion) in revenue this year, putting it on course to become one of the best-selling medicines of all time.

The New York drugmaker had previously projected vaccine sales for the year of $26 billion. The sharp upward revision is a sign demand for the shots, which Pfizer sells with German partner BioNTech, is surging as countries battle new outbreaks fuelled by the Delta virus variant.

In the second quarter, the vaccine booked $7.8 billion in sales, Pfizer said in a statement on Wednesday, more than the $7.05 billion analysts expected on average. The companies, which have delivered one billion doses of the two-shot regimen, have contracts for 2.1 billion doses through mid-July.

If Pfizer’s sales projections are met, the vaccine would climb into the highest rank of blockbuster medicines, outpacing bellwethers such as AbbVie’s Humira immunosuppressive therapy and Merck’s cancer fighter Keytruda.

A resurgence of virus infections due to the Delta variant is likely to mean sustained demand for vaccines around the world. Further, it is widely expected that many people could require booster shoots to bolster the immunity gained in the initial round of immunisations.

Pfizer said in a presentation accompanying its earnings release that emerging real-world data “suggests immunity against infection and symptomatic disease may wane”, underscoring the need for boosters.

The company said regulators will determine “whether, and which, populations to recommend booster” and that they will likely first focus on those with compromised immune systems and older adults.

Shares of Pfizer were down 0.5 per cent in pre-market trading in New York. They have gained 14 per cent this year.

Booster plans

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it would approach US regulators for authorisation of a third booster dose of its vaccine, based on early data showing that it can sharply increase immune protection against coronavirus.

New data now shows a third dose elicits neutralising titres against the Delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in the US. Those titres are more than five times higher in younger people, and 11 times greater in older people, than following the typical two-dose regimen.

Pfizer said in the presentation that it will publish “more definitive data about the analysis” and share information with global regulators.

In the meantime, the companies launched a Phase 3 study of the third booster dose, and will enrol 10,000 participants.

Pfizer also aims to create a new formulation of the vaccine tailored to combat the Delta variant. The drugmaker said in the presentation that clinical studies of the new shot are projected to begin in August, subject to regulatory approval, and that the first batch of the shot has already been manufactured.

Other vaccines

Pfizer’s non-Covid vaccine pipeline is also growing. The company said that its respiratory syncytial virus adult vaccine showed 100 per cent efficacy against mild to moderate symptomatic infection in a mid-stage study. Based on this data, the company will initiate a late-stage trial in September, with initial results as early as the first quarter of 2022.

Separately, the company completed recruitment for a Phase 2 trial of a Lyme disease vaccine candidate. A late-stage study is expected to start in the second half of 2022.

The vaccine is expected to bolster Pfizer’s wider business results.

The company said it now expects full-year revenue of $78 billion to $80 billion, compared with $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion previously. Adjusted earnings per share are projected to reach $3.95 to $4.05, up from the previous forecast of $3.55 to $3.65.

Pfizer’s core pharmaceutical business has continued to show growth, with revenue in the second quarter up 10 per cent to $11.1 billion, leading it to raise revenue guidance for that portfolio by $400 million for 2021. – Bloomberg