Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated
"I am pleased with our performance so far this year, including our ability to maintain a steady supply of medicines to the patients who rely on them during these uniquely challenging times," remarked chief financial officer Frank D'Amelio. The executive added "in the first nine months of the year, our biopharma business grew 7% operationally, despite a COVID-19-related negative impact of approximately 2%, driven by the strong performance of many of our key brands."
Pfizer said the pandemic weighed down its third-quarter revenue by approximately $500 million, or 4%, hit by lower demand for some products in China, as well as unfavourable disruptions to healthcare visits for patients in the US, which negatively impacted prescribing patterns for certain products.
Pfizer now expects revenue in 2020 of between $48.8 billion and $49.5 billion, narrowed from a prior estimated range of $48.6 billion to $50.6 billion. Meanwhile, earnings per share are now predicted to be in the range of $2.88 to $2.93, compared with an earlier forecast of between $2.85 and $2.95. The drugmaker said its guidance reflects "an ongoing, gradual global recovery from the macroeconomic and healthcare impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," and also assumes no revenue contributions from a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the company also said it continues to expect to close the pending merger of its Upjohn unit with Mylan in the fourth quarter.
Pfizer disclosed that as of October 26, the Phase II/III study of its COVID-19 vaccine, which is being co-developed with BioNTech, has enrolled more than 42,000 people, with nearly 36,000 having received their second dose. Pfizer noted the trial's data monitoring committee has not yet conducted an interim efficacy analysis, but the company reiterated that it anticipates filing the vaccine candidate for emergency use in the US soon after reaching a two-month safety milestone, expected in the third week of November.
The company also disclosed that it is ending a Phase II study of the acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor PF-05221304, which was being tested as a monotherapy treatment in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis for patients with liver scarring. However, the drug still appears to be active in combination trials. In addition, Pfizer is discontinuing a mid-stage trial evaluating the IRAK4 inhibitor PF-06650833 as a potential arthritis treatment, as well as the Phase I asset PF-06753512, a prostate cancer therapeutic vaccine.
Healthcare investor Brad Loncar said it was difficult to know what to make of the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine study has not yet had its first interim analysis, which is supposed to be performed after 32 participants in the trial become infected with the novel coronavirus. "I think this means that the overall infection rate is a lot lower than Pfizer initially estimated," Loncar said.
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