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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pfizer’s sales fall short as COVID continues to haunt

By Nacha Cattan and Cynthia Koons Washington Post

Pfizer Inc.’s sales missed expectations for the quarter as its COVID-19 shot and pill continued to create instability for the drugmaker’s efforts to transition out of the pandemic.

A little more than two weeks after Pfizer shocked the market by cutting $9 billion from its full-year sales guidance as a result of plummeting demand for its COVID products, sales of its vaccine and pill once again disappointed. Investors have been looking for a floor in the company’s plummeting COVID business after those products at one point nearly doubled its revenue.

While the fading COVID sales were “not a huge surprise,” Evan Seigerman, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets said. “We want to hear more from management on the path to sustainable growth with the COVID reset behind us.”

Overall third-quarter sales fell 42% to $13.2 billion, Pfizer said Tuesday in a statement, short of the Wall Street view of $13.5 billion. The company posted a loss of 17 cents a share on an adjusted basis, compared with the average estimate for a loss of 33 cents. The quarterly loss was Pfizer’s first on an adjusted basis more than three decades, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales of its COVID booster fell 70% to $1.31 billion, around $200 million short of analysts’ expectations, and Paxlovid sales tumbled 97% to $202 million, missing the mark by nearly $170 million. Questions remain about the prospects for Paxlovid, as well as whether the drugmaker’s expectation for a 17% vaccination rate with the latest COVID boosters is too optimistic.

Earlier this month, Pfizer agreed to take millions of Paxlovid courses back from the U.S. government, which should allow for more private, higher-priced sales of the drug. Pfizer also said it’s cutting about $3.5 billion in costs across the company, including layoffs and reductions in research and development expenses. The company said on Friday that it would close two facilities in North Carolina as part of those measures.

The company’s shares closed at $30.56 Tuesday, up 0.01. They have plunged 40% so far this year .

As for Pfizer’s other drugs, blood-thinner Eliquis narrowly missed estimates with sales of $1.5 billion in revenue. Ibrance, a breast cancer treatment, met expectations of $1.24 billion in sales. A group of shots to protect against pneumonia beat estimates with sales of $1.85 billion.

The company also awaits U.S. regulatory approval for its $43 billion acquisition of cancer biotech firm Seagen Inc. The deal got unconditional support from European Union regulators, suggesting it may not face much U.S. scrutiny.

“The road ahead remains challenging” for Pfizer, Citi’s Andrew Baum wrote in a note. In addition to the COVID franchise downturn, the expensive Seagen purchase has potential for “talent-loss post integration,” he said.