Innovative health gains highlight Pfizer's Q1

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Pfizer's innovative health business was the bright spot in its first quarter 2018, with sales growing 6% over the prior year to $7.8 billion. However, the drugmaker also saw a 5% loss in its legacy essential health division to $5.1 billion.


In the U.S., innovative health was driven by high growth in its rare disease, inflammatory and immunology, and oncology treatments, Overall, Pfizer reported $12.9 billion in revenue, up 1% over last year, in the first quarter, despite a 5% decline in the U.S.


The pharma company's blockbuster drug, breast cancer treatment Ibrance, had $933 million in sales in the first quarter, up 37.4% from a year earlier. However, that number still missed analysts' expectations by more than $20 million, according to Reuters. Arthritis treatment Xeljanz, which received a new indication approval in December for psoriatic arthritis, also missed expectations. The drug reported sales of $326 million, up 30% from the year prior.


Prevnar 13 remained the highest earning drug for Pfizer, bringing in $1.3 billion worldwide, although the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, too, saw a 1% decrease in sales in quarter one.


The essential health unit, which includes drugs that have lost or will soon lose exclusivity, was down 5% worldwide and 19% in the U.S. A big change in the first quarter was Viagra's loss of exclusivity in December, moving that revenue from the innovative health to the essential health unit.


Pfizer COO Albert Bourla said he expects the essential health business to have a flat year, with declines in the first half and growth in the second half of 2018, according to a transcript of the earnings call.


Pfizer's consumer health division, which includes brands such as Advil and Centrum, had 7% sales growth in the first quarter. The company has been struggling to sell the consumer division. Since the beginning of the year, several companies have backed out of talks to acquire it, including Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, and Procter & Gamble, which instead made a deal to buy German Merck's consumer health unit.


The company is continuing to look for deals for its consumer division, CEO Ian Read told investors on Tuesday.


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