Company news: Pfizer and Merck

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Pfizer reported first-quarter revenues of $16.5 billion, about even with the year-ago quarter. Sales of several primary care drugs rose, including Lyrica and Spiriva, as did biologics Prevnar/Prevenar and Enbrel. Results were also buoyed by the addition of products from Pfizer's pending acquisition of King Pharmaceuticals. But global revenue was hurt by the loss of exclusivity of best-seller Lipitor in Canada and Spain. US sales came in at $7.0 billion, a decrease of 3% compared with the year-ago quarter, weighed down by the loss of exclusivity of Aricept in the US in November. The pipeline is a bright spot: this year Pfizer expects to present phase III data for several compounds, including tofacitinib in RA. It's also on track to see action on its US and EU filings of Prevnar/Prevenar 13 for the prevention of pneumococcal disease in adults. Lastly, CEO Ian Read wants to complete his ongoing evaluation of Pfizer's business portfolio during the second half of 2011. Pfizer agreed this year to sell its Capsugel unit to a private-equity firm for $2.4 billion in cash, and that may not be its last divestiture.

Merck saw a 1% hike in revenue to $11.6 billion last quarter, as strong sales of key drugs and lower costs from integrating its Schering-Plough acquisition made up for competition from generic drugs. During the quarter, the firm took a $500 million payment to settle arbitration with Johnson & Johnson over the rights to specialty drugs Remicade and Simponi—part of $1.8 billion in net charges. Standout drugs included Singulair and Januvia, plus the Schering legacy drugs Nasonex and Remicade. Revenue for Cozaar and Hyzaar fell by $356 million due to generic competition.
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