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Pfizer’s Q2 sales down as Lipitor competition continues to bite

But lower costs this year allow profits to rebounds from their dip last year

Generic competition for Lipitor once again caused Pfizer's quarterly revenues to slide, although net income for the US pharma company climbed 25 per cent due to lower costs.

Pfizer posted revenues of $15.06bn during the second quarter of 2012, down 9 per cent from the $16.49bn it posted for the same period in 2011.

The primary reason for this slump was a drop in sales for what was formerly the world's biggest selling drug, Lipitor (atorvastatin), with Pfizer reporting total revenues of $1.22bn for the cholesterol-lowering medicine compared to the $2.59bn it made during the same period last year.

This was felt hardest in the US, where sales were down 79 per cent to $296m following the drug's patent expiry in November, 2011.

The worst effects are still to be felt in Europe, despite a fall in sales of 38 per cent, with generic competition only fully entering the market in May, 2012, after Pfizer managed to extend the drug's patent in the region through a paediatric indication.

In addition, the 180-day exclusivity period for Ranbaxy to sell its generic version of Lipitor in the US has now come to an end, meaning Pfizer's revenues are likely to be hit further as further generic competitors enter the market.

Despite this fall, net profits were up from $2.61bn to $3.25bn, as Pfizer bounced back from several high costs incurred the previous year.

These included costs related to the closure of its R&D facility in Kent, UK, and impairment charges of $332m due to discontinued investigational products.

The continued growth of such products as Lyrica (up 14 per cent), Enbrel (8 per cent) and Prevnar 13/Prevenar 13 (12 per cent), as well as 14 per cent growth in emerging markets, also gave Pfizer some hope for the rest of the year.

Frank D'Amelio, chief financial officer, said: “We are reaffirming our 2012 financial guidance, reflecting our solid performance year-to-date, our continued confidence in the business, our financial flexibility and the significant cost savings generated by our cost-reduction and productivity initiatives.”

Pfizer is also on its way to finalising the sale of its nutrition business to Nestle, according to the company's chair and CEO Ian Read, who also confirmed that Pfizer's animal health unit will be spun off as a stand-along public company named Zoetis, with initial public offerings (IPO) for a 20 per cent stake in the business due to open in mid-August.

“If the IPO is successfully completed, which we are targeting for the first half of 2013, we will have a variety of options to achieve a potential full separation of Zoetis,” he said.

1st August 2012

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