Pfizer boosts forecast for vaccine sales to US$33.5bil

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. now expects its Covid-19 vaccine to bring in US$33.5 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 US$26 billion. The upward revision is a sign demand for the shots, which Pfizer sells with German partner BioNTech SE, is surging as countries battle new outbreaks fueled by the delta virus variant.

In the second quarter, the vaccine booked US$7.8 billion in sales, Pfizer said in a statement Wednesday, more than the US$7.05 billion analysts expected, on average. The companies, which have delivered 1 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 Inc.’s Humira immunosuppressive therapy and Merck & Co. cancer fighter Keytruda.

A resurgence of virus infections thanks 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 immunizations.

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% in premarket trading in New York. Through the close on Tuesday, they had gained 14% this year.

Booster Plans

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

New data now shows a third dose elicits neutralizing titers against the delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in the U.S.

Those titers are more than 5 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 enroll 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.

Pfizer’s non-Covid vaccine pipeline is also growing. The company said that its respiratory syncytial virus adult vaccine showed 100% efficacy against mild to moderate symptomatic infection in a mid-stage study. Based on these 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.

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

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

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

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