HEALTH

Pfizer reports 3Q profit rise, revenue drop

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Job cuts helped raise Pfizer’s third-quarter 2009 profits by 26% over third-quarter 2008, even though the company had lower overall sales, according to an earnings report released Tuesday.

The world’s largest drug maker reported profits of $2.9 billion, compared with $2.3 billion a year ago, though revenues were $11.6 billion, a 3% decrease from $12 billion in third-quarter 2008. The company said the decrease in revenues and the rise in the value of the dollar kept profits from increasing further.

Pfizer’s $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, while giving the company a leg up in vaccines, biologics and OTC drugs, helped offset profits by requiring it to pay higher interest rates on its bonds, according to the report. The company incurred $22.5 billion in debt through the acquisition, prompting Standard & Poor’s to lower its bond rating from AAA to AA.

Such drugs as the pain drug Lyrica (pregabalin) and the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) had strong sales overseas, but primary-care drugs in general had a mediocre performance thanks to lower sales of Lipitor in the United States. Cancer drugs, likewise, had lackluster performance, despite growth in recent years in the cancer drug market in general.

Though the drug Sutent (sunitinib malate) sold well, the company lost market exclusivity in Europe for the drug Camptosar (irinotecan), and had lower sales overseas due to the strengthening of the dollar, helping to drive sales down from $389 million in third-quarter 2008 to $371 million this quarter.

Meanwhile, sales of specialty drugs — drugs prescribed by specialist doctors rather than primary-care physicians — were $1.6 billion, a 3% increase over third-quarter 2008, thanks largely to strong sales of such drugs as the multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif (interferon beta-1a) and the pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Revatio (sildenafil citrate).

“The completion of the Wyeth acquisition represents a significant milestone in the transformation of Pfizer,” Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler stated. “We are beginning to implement our integration plan in order to quickly maximize the value of our expanded and more diversified global product portfolio in key high-growth areas. With customer-centric businesses, supported by research organizations, Pfizer is now well positioned to deliver greater value to patients and shareholders.”

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Report: Union, Mo., passes new PSE legislation

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK There is a big danger here, and it’s a danger that has less to do with the neighborhood meth addict in search of pseudoephedrine, and more to do with appropriate access to medicines and who gets to be the gatekeeper to that access. Because not only will a prescription-only PSE restrict consumer access to a legitimate nonprescription cough-cold ingredient, but if successfully mandated by the local government, it also has the potential to limit legitimate access to just about any cost-saving OTC medicine and for just about any reason.

 

And that’s because you’ve just usurped the ability to switch or reverse-switch a drug from the scientists employed by the Food and Drug Administration, scientists who vet each decision through clinical trials, and placed that ability into the hands of a local politician, who’s sole clinical experience with any given drug may be that he used it one afternoon because he felt under the weather. Or that his niece experienced an adverse event from overdosing on an OTC cough-cold medicine that she shouldn’t have had access to in the first place.

 

There are some areas that are appropriately left to local municipalities to govern. This isn’t one of those areas, especially since the industry has offered to supplement the cost of a measure that would both cut down on the use of store-bought PSE in the manufacture of meth while at the same time maintaining access of the decongestant to legitimate users.

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Pfizer returns to consumer care with Wyeth buy

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The approval last week of the Wyeth acquisition by Pfizer marks the return of a consumer-care division to Pfizer, and a considerable one at that.

Pfizer in 2006 sold its then OTC division to Johnson & Johnson as part of an initiative to capitalize on its pharmaceutical pipeline. Then the recession hit, and the need for a significant cash-flow generator like an OTC division again became paramount to pharma companies. So in addition to the pharmaceutical symmetries inherent in the deal — biologics and vaccines — the return of an OTC division to Pfizer is consequential.

There will be a degree of continuity as Wyeth Consumer Healthare is exchanged for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare on all OTC packaging — former president of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, Cavan Redmond, remains in charge of the division as group president, diversified businesses at the new Pfizer. In addition to OTCs, animal health and nutrition, Cavan also picks up responsibility for capsule manufacturer Capsugel.

Pfizer’s new OTC division is strongest in internal analgesics behind its venerable Advil brand — comprising 16.8% dollar share of the category, the pain reliever generated $340.8 million in sales across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 4, according to Information Resources Inc., down slightly by 2.5% in an economy that continues to skew toward private label.

Other areas of significance include dietary supplements, with $189.7 million in Centrum sales (down 1%) and $53.4 million in Caltrate sales (up 3.8%); cold and allergy, where in addition to Advil Cold, Wyeth fields Alavert and Robitussin. Indeed, almost $1-out-of-every-$3 spent on cough syrups is used to buy a Robitussin product, which generated $91.5 million for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 4, up 27.2%. Across the digestives aisle is Preparation H, with more than $75 million in annual sales, and Fibercon, which generates more than $10 million annually. And in lip care, the new Pfizer division will field Chapstick, a brand with more than $80 million in annual sales.

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