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Pfizer Takes ‘Opportunistic’ Approach To Future Biosimilars

Pfizer Takes ‘Opportunistic’ Approach To Future Biosimilars

Source : 'Generics Bulletin'

Pfizer Inc.  has revealed that it will take a more “opportunistic” approach to biosimilar investments in future, as the firm reported a staggering 88% operational growth and 93% overall growth in its biosimilars business globally in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s biosimilars segment clocked in $559m in Q2, compared to $289m in the prior-year period.

According to Pfizer, the growth in biosimilars was “primarily driven by recent oncology monoclonal antibody biosimilar launches of Zirabev (bevacizumab), Ruxience (rituximab) and Trazimera (trastuzumab) globally, as well as continued growth from Retacrit (epoetin) in the US, that was partially offset by lower revenues for Xeljanz (tofacitinib), which was down by 15%.”

The US market delivered biosimilar revenues of $363m for Pfizer in Q2 2021, up from $161m a year earlier. Meanwhile, European biosimilars sales grew by 49% to $145m in the second quarter of 2021. Sales of biosimilars in Pfizer’s “rest of the world” markets rose by 59% to $33m and in emerging markets grew 64% to $16m. 

Furthermore, Pfizer reported an 88% increase in its biosimilars business to $1.089bn for the first half of 2021, compared to $578m reported in the first half of 2020.

Commenting on the company’s biosimilars portfolio, Angela Hwang, group president of Pfizer said, “We’ve been so pleased with the tremendous growth that we’ve seen in this area, and the deep utilization of our biosimilars.”

But “since we’ve made this pivot to a pure-play sort of innovation focus in our pipeline,” she added, “we are really now looking at that biosimilar portfolio vis-à-vis other investments in breakthrough therapies that we have to make.”

“Of course we will continue to look for opportunities” in biosimilars, Hwang confirmed. “But I would say at this point, it’s going to be more opportunistic,” with the company prioritizing investments in its development programs to “make sure that we have the ability to focus on breakthrough therapies.”

“So I’d say that going forward, we'll be more opportunistic because we're just weighing and trading off so many incredible programs on the innovative side that we could also be doing.” 

Hwang’s comments come after Pfizer in 2019 shelved development of five pre-clinical biosimilars, concluding that the firm’s research and development dollars would be better spent on its pipeline of late-stage innovative programs. "Pfizer Axes Staff And Five PreClinical Biosimilars To Fund LateStage Innovative Programs" "Generics Bulletin"

Pfizer’s sterile injectables business delivered a 12% increase in revenues to $1.381bn in Q2 2021, compared to $1.233bn in the prior-year period. For the first half of 2021, the sterile injectables business clocked in turnover of $2.863bn, an increase of 9% from the first half of 2020.

According to Pfizer, gains in its hospital products segment – that grew 17% operationally to $2.3bn in Q2 – were partially offset by a decline in US sales of certain sterile injectable products utilized in the intubation and mechanical ventilation of patients being treated for COVID-19 due to high demand for these products in the prior-year quarter.  

Frank D’Amelio, chief financial officer of Pfizer said, “Pfizer’s second quarter performance highlighted once again the underlying strength of our business, with consistent and solid growth coming from multiple products and categories.”

Pfizer saw an increase of 92% or $9.1bn in its overall revenues to $18.98bn in the second quarter of 2021, reflecting operational growth of 86% or $8.5bn, as well as a favorable impact of foreign exchange of 6% or $637m.  

Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla commented, “The second quarter was remarkable in a number of ways. Most visibly, the speed and efficiency of our efforts with BioNTech to help vaccinate the world against COVID-19 have been unprecedented, with now more than a billion doses of BNT162b2 having been delivered globally.”

Bourla added, “We are equally proud of the second-quarter performance of our business excluding (the COVID-19 vaccine business) BNT162b2, which posted 10% operational revenue growth.”

D’Amelio added, “It is important to point out that the 10% year-over-year operational revenue growth rate for our business excluding BNT162b2 comes on top of a strong 6% operational growth rate delivered by the comparable business in the second quarter of last year.”

Commenting on Pfizer’s 2021 financial guidance, D’Amelio  said, “As a result of updates to our expectations for our business, both including and excluding BNT162b2 , we are increasing our 2021 financial guidance ranges for revenues and adjusted diluted earnings per share for the second quarter in a row.” Pfizer raised its full-year sales expectations from $70.5bn-$72.5bn previously, to $78bn-$80bn in the current 2021 financial guidance.

Bourla added, “Looking forward, we remain highly confident in our ability to achieve at least a 6% compound annual growth rate through 2025 and intend to build upon our recent successes by continuing to follow the science, trust in our people and remain focused on delivering breakthroughs for the patients we serve.”

By Akriti Seth