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Pfizer profits drop as it adapts to lower Covid-19 revenues

Pfizer reported a drop in first-quarter profits Tuesday on declining Covid-19 vaccine revenues, but said it was on track for a heavy series of product launches later in 2023.

Shares of the pharma giant edged higher as Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla touted an “unprecedented” number of new launches to help offset an ebbing of Covid-19-related sales that have boosted profits in recent years.

These include the migraine drug Zavzpret and the Prevnar pneumonia vaccine for children. Pfizer is also targeting growth in cancer treatments, having announced in March an acquisition of biotech company Seagen for $43 billion.

Bourla said integration planning for Seagen is underway and that the deal is expected to close in late 2023 or early 2024.

Pfizer’s profits in the first quarter were $5.5 billion, down 30 percent from the year-ago period.

Revenues fell 29 percent to $18.3 billion following a $10 billion drop from Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty.

Bourla described 2023 as a “transition year” for its Covid-19 products.

The company expects vaccine utilization to decline in 2023 and 2024, but to see an uptick starting in 2025 “assuming the successful development and approval of various Covid combination vaccines,” Bourla said in prepared remarks.

Pfizer has also forecast a 2023 decline in revenues in Paxlovid, its Covid-19 therapeutic. The company attributes the decline this year to earlier purchases by governments to build inventories.

“We then expect that in the years 2024 and beyond the courses sold and used will more closely align,” Bourla said, describing Paxlovid as a valuable tool in blocking the virus from progressing to a severe condition in infected patients.

Shares were up 0.8 percent at $39.52 in pre-market trading.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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