The second-quarter earnings parade today told a story of two
companies, whose lipid franchises are heading in
Pfizer said its profit fell 48% in the second quarter as prescriptions
for the best-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor slowed due to generic competition
and payer pressure.
“Lipitor, our most prescribed product, did not meet our
expectations for the quarter,” Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer chairman and CEO, said
in a statement this morning.
Globally, Lipitor sales declined 13%, compared to the same
quarter last year, but the fall was steepest in the US, where sales slid by 25% to $2.7
billion. Total Pfizer sales fell 5.6% to $11.1 billion.
In the statement, Kindler cited changes in US wholesaler
inventories, as well as a lower the rate of prescribing, as reasons for the Lipitor
sales drop. In addition, Pfizer had to offer increased rebates to wholesalers
and pharmacy benefit managers.
Among the biggest factors weighing on Pfizer’s prized statin
was stiffer competition from branded and generic products, including generic simvastatin
and Merck-Schering-Plough’s Vytorin and Zetia and AstraZeneca’s Crestor.
Pfizer is trying to drive Lipitor revenue by upping
promotion, including its TV, radio and print campaign featuring Dr. Robert
Jarvik launched earlier this year, and approving new indications. Nevertheless,
it projected a decline of as much as 5% in Lipitor revenue this year compared
Also leading to the company’s decline in net income to $1.27
billion were the loss of US patent exclusivity for Zoloft and Norvasc, as well
as R&D payments made to Bristol-Myers Squibb in connection with the two firms’
collaboration to develop and commercialize blood-thinner apixaban.
Bright spots included a 49% increase in sales of diabetic nerve-pain
drug Lyrica, which recently won an additional approval for treating fibromyalgia,
and a new product, antismoking therapy Chantix.
In contrast, Abbott Labs’ lipid franchise helped the company
swing to a second-quarter profit. US sales of TriCor, which reduces
levels of triglycerides, were up 21% to $302 million. And Niaspan, Abbott’s drug
for raising HDL cholesterol which it acquired last year when it bought Kos, posted
sales of $170 million, putting it on pace to reach about $650 million in sales
this year, the firm said.
The suburban Chicago
company said sales rose 16% to $6.37 billion, while earnings came in at $989
million, up from $612 million during the same quarter last year.
Other bright spots for Abbott included US sales of arthritis
treatment Humira (up 44% to $406 million), US sales of epilepsy/bipolar
treatment Depakote (up 28% to $382 million) and US sales of HIV treatment
Kaletra (up 12% to $132 million).