Pfizer’s posts USD4.9B Q1 profit as vaccine strategy pays off

AP – Selling vaccines during a pandemic has boosted Pfizer’s bottom line and proven that a strategy it embarked upon over a decade ago is now paying off handsomely.

The New York-based pharmaceutical giant reported on Tuesday that it earned USD4.9 billion in the first three months of the year and it dramatically raised its profit forecast for all of 2021 thanks to strong demand for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The company, along with its German partner BioNTech, anticipate strong revenue from the vaccine and booster shots for the next three years. Once viewed as a marketing machine for blockbuster treatments such as Lipitor, Pfizer has transformed itself into a powerhouse for delivering drugs that treat cancer, rare diseases — and vaccines.

Pfizer on Tuesday almost doubled its sales projections for the COVID-19 vaccine this year, from USD15 billion to roughly USD26 billion. The partners expect to be able to deliver about 2.5 billion vaccine doses this year, including 300 million doses for the United States (US), and already are prepping for what could become annual booster shots.

Pfizer got into the low-profile, low-profit vaccine field in 2009 when it acquired Wyeth and its then-experimental pneumococcal vaccine.

That vaccine, Prevnar, which protects against ear, bloodstream and other pneumococcal infections, was approved by the US the following year. It became the world’s most lucrative vaccine with annual sales of about USD5 billion — once unheard of.

A man wearing a facemask and shield walks past the Pfizer headquarters in New York. PHOTO: AFP