Pfizer's recent good fortunes have been tied to its position as market leader in COVID vaccines, but that fortune is fading along with the pandemic.
Pfizer on Tuesday reported record 2022 revenues of $100.3 billion, a 30% operational increase from 2021. But that increase will be wiped out in 2023, as the pharma giant projected a 31% drop in its revenues, to somewhere between $67 billion and $71 billion.
The guidance rests almost entirely on expected steep declines in sales of Pfizer’s COVID drugs: the Comirnaty vaccine and boosters, and Paxlovid oral treatment.
Comirnatyrevenues are expected to be $13.5 billion this year, down 64% from 2022, and Paxlovid revenues $8 billion, down 58%.
Due to fewer people needing primary vaccination and lower compliance with official recommendations, Pfizer projected that only 24% of the U.S. population will receive a COVID shot in 2023, compared with 31% in 2022. And doses in the U.S. are expected to fall from 92 million in 2022 to 65 million.
But the Comirnaty picture should stabilize in 2024, said Pfizer chairman and chief executive officer Albert Bourla in prepared remarks, with sales then increasing starting in 2025. This assumes “the successful development and approval of a COVID/flu combination product,” he said, which “could over time bring the percentage of Americans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine closer to the portion of people getting flu shots, which is currently about 50%.
Pfizer expects its share of the COVID vaccine/booster market to remain at its current 64% through at least 2026.
Decreases in vaccinations and boosters are expected to lower COVID immune protection, Bourla said, resulting in a slight increase in infections to about 2% annually.
And that should help sales of Paxlovid, as “we expect treatment rates to increase as awareness, education and additional oral entries will grow the oral antiviral market.”
Excluding the COVID drugs, Pfizer reported that its 2022 growth in operational revenues was only 2%, and that it expects 7% to 9% growth in 2023.
Strong performers for the company in the fourth quarter included its pneumonia vaccine Prevnar (up 79%), and heart drugs Vyndaqel (up 31%) and Eliquis (up 17%),
Bourla also pointed out that Cibinqo, an eczema drug, launched a consumer ad campaign in November, which led to increased patient awareness and “more patients asking their doctors about it.” In the fourth quarter he said, new prescriptions of Cibinqo increased 84% from the previous quarter.