Pfizer CEO Albert Burla speaks during a press conference with the President of the European Commission following a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at US pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s plant in Puurs, April 23, 2021.
John Tees | AFP | Getty Images
pfizer On Tuesday, CEO Albert Burla outlined his plan to keep the pharmaceutical giant growing until 2030, when the Covid-19 pandemic is over and the company faces generic competition for some of its blockbusters.
Burla said Pfizer expects to lose between $16 billion and $18 billion in revenue between 2025 and 2030 as patent protection for some of its best-selling drugs expires. He acknowledged that some investors are skeptical about Pfizer’s future after two years of success with a Covid vaccine and antiviral treatment.
“We understand that some have doubts about Pfizer’s long-term growth outlook,” Burla told analysts Tuesday during Pfizer’s third-quarter earnings report. The company’s shares rose about 3% on Tuesday after it raised its 2022 profit guidance in its third-quarter earnings report, which beat Wall Street’s expectations. “We believe that we can not only overcome these expected downturns, but also have the potential to deliver strong growth before the end of the decade,” he said.
In a July report, Moody’s highlighted five Pfizer drugs that could come under generic pressure over the next decade. These include Eliquis for blood clots, Vyndaqel for cardiomyopathy, Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis, Ibrance for breast cancer, and Xtandi for prostate cancer.
Together, these five drugs accounted for about 40% of Pfizer’s revenue in the third quarter of this year, excluding the Covid vaccine and Paxlovid antiviral treatment.
It’s also unclear how strong the demand for a Covid and Paxlovid vaccine will be as the world hopefully emerges from the pandemic. In the third quarter of this year, vaccine and antiviral treatments accounted for 52% of Pfizer’s total revenue.
Burla told analysts that Pfizer plans to increase the company’s revenue by $25 billion by 2030 through recent acquisitions and the development of its own line of medicines and vaccines. He identified three main areas – respiratory syncytial virus, migraine and ulcerative colitis.
Pfizer’s RSV vaccine candidates for the elderly and infants could generate billions in revenue, Burla said. His vaccine for people aged 60 and over was 85% effective in preventing severe lower respiratory tract infections. And its infant vaccine, given to mothers late in pregnancy, is 81% effective in preventing serious illness in the first 90 days of a baby’s life.
Burla said a vaccine to protect newborns could be on the market by the end of 2023 or early 2024. It will be the only RSV vaccine in the U.S. that protects babies by vaccinating the mother, he said. An RSV vaccine for the elderly could also reach the market in the same time frame, Burla said.
“RSV is an area of significant unmet need, especially in the elderly and infants,” he said. “We believe we have the potential to be a leader in this field and have a real impact on public health.”
Pfizer also plans to build the world’s best portfolio of migraine drugs through its recent acquisition of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, Burla said. Its portfolio of migraine medications could top out at over $6 billion, he said. In the US alone, over 40 million people suffer from migraines.
Pfizer’s purchase of Arena Pharmaceuticals and its ulcerative colitis drug candidate could also generate billions in revenue, Burla said. Ulcerative colitis is a debilitating inflammatory bowel disease that affects one million people in the United States.
There is strong demand for the treatment, Burla said, and Pfizer expects the market to grow 50% over the next five years. The drug etrasimod could enter the US market in the second half of 2023, pending regulatory approval, Burla said.
This year alone, Pfizer bought four companies for a total of more than $24 billion. The drugs these acquisitions bring should bring Pfizer about one-third closer to its 2030 revenue target, Burle said.
In addition to Arena and Biohaven, acquisitions include Global Blood Therapeutics and ReViral. Global Blood Therapeutics makes Oxbryta, a drug for the treatment of sickle cell anemia. ReViral is developing antiviral drugs for the treatment of RSV.
Pfizer also has 15 proprietary drugs and vaccines expected to be released over the next 18 months. They have the potential to generate $20 billion in sales in 2030, according to Burla.
According to Pfizer CFO David Denton, Pfizer expects the Covid vaccine and antiviral treatment to generate multi-billion dollar revenue in the coming years.
“It’s going to be a bit like a lingering flu, but actually more deadly than the flu,” Denton said during an earnings call. “Therefore, I think that the products developed by Pfizer, both in terms of a vaccine and in terms of therapy, could be very relevant for many years to come.”