Pfizer says Eliquis, Ibrance, Xeljanz continued to help drive growth in Q3, but narrows full-year guidance citing pricing pressures, generic competition

Headline results for the third quarter:

Innovative health unit

$8.5 billion


Essential health unit

$4.8 billion



$13.3 billion (forecasts of $13.5 billion)



$4.1 billion


Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

CEO Ian Read, who will be succeeded by Albert Bourla starting in January, stated "we reported solid third-quarter 2018 financial results, with total company revenues up 2 percent operationally, driven by the continued growth of key brands such as Eliquis, Ibrance, Prevnar 13, Xeljanz and Xtandi, as well as biosimilars and emerging markets."

However, he said "the performance of these growth drivers was partially offset by product losses of exclusivity, a decline in legacy established products in developed markets and ongoing legacy Hospira sterile injectable supply shortages."

Meanwhile, Read also indicated that the company will likely go back to "business as normal" for drug price increases starting in January, despite criticism earlier this year by US President Donald Trump for raising prices on their prescription products.

Other results:

  • Ibrance: $1 billion (forecast of $1.1 billion), up 17 percent, fuelled by continued uptake in Europe and December 2017 launch in Japan
  • Eliquis alliance revenue and direct sales: $870 million, up 35 percent, boosted by increased adoption in non-valvular atrial fibrillation  
  • Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13: $1.7 billion, up 9 percent, driven by increased government purchases for the paediatric indication
  • Xeljanz: $432 million (forecast of $476.3 million), up 24 percent, due to continued uptake for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Xtandi alliance revenue: $180 million, up 20 percent, fuelled by continued uptake in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer
  • Biosimilar product sales: $197 million, up 40 percent

What analysts said:

Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan noted that investors have been increasingly focused on the company post-2020, with a view toward drugs they hope will be introduced to the market by then, including the non-opioid pain treatment tanezumab, which recently yielded positive results in a Phase III study of patients suffering from osteoarthritis pain.

Looking ahead:

Pfizer currently anticipates full-year earnings in the range of $2.98 per share to $3.02 per share, narrowed from a prior forecast of $2.95 per share to $3.05 per share. The drugmaker also expects revenue this year to be between $53 billion and $53.7 billion, revised from a prior range of $53 billion to $55 billion.

The company said the narrowed revenue forecast was due to lower-than-expected sales for its essential health unit, mainly as a result of "continued legacy Hospira sterile injectable pharmaceuticals product shortages in the US," as well as currency effects. Pfizer indicated that the new guidance also "reflects an anticipated negative revenue impact of $1.8 billion due to recent and expected generic and biosimilar competition for certain products that have recently lost or are anticipated to soon lose patent protection."

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