Pfizer set to lose ‘billions of dollars’ as drug patents expire

Pharma giant reports worse-than-expected fourth-quarter results on weak Viagra sales

Pfizer posted fourth-quarter earnings and a forecast for next year that were both short of analysts' estimates, as the drugmaker said it would lose billions of dollars in revenue as products lose exclusive sales rights.

Revenue in 2017 will be $52 billion to $54 billion, Pfizer said in a statement on Tuesday, compared with the $54.3 billion average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings excluding some items will be $2.50 to $2.60 a share. Analysts had forecast $2.59 a share.

Poor performers

Some of its biggest products performed poorly in the fourth quarter as well, as the vaccine Prevnar and the erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra fell short of sales expectations.

Fourth-quarter profit excluding some items was 47 cents a share, compared with estimates of 50 cents a share. The shares were down 1.3 per cent to $30.91 at 6.45am in New York, before markets opened.


The financial forecast is the first Pfizer has given since President Donald Trump took office. While Trump has suggested that pharmaceutical companies should bid for government business, Pfizer executives said at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference this month that the company does not see major changes to how it prices medicines. The drugmaker is betting on newer medicines to offset expiring patents on older drugs that may allow competition from cheaper versions.

Analysts also expect Pfizer to remain active doing deals in its search for new products. Last year, the company bought Medivation and its blockbuster prostate cancer drug, Xtandi, for $14 billion.

The 2017 forecast included an expected $2.4 billion hit due to recent and expected competition from generic drugs and cheaper biosimilars as patents on its medicines expire. – (Bloomberg)