Pfizer tips pipeline to add $15B to sales in coming years

Pfizer  headquarters logo sign
Analysts expect Pfizer to lose up to $20 billion in sales due to patent expirations starting in 2026. (Tracy Staton)

Pfizer has tipped its pipeline to deliver new products that add more than $15 billion to revenues by 2025. The anticipated pipeline contributions led Pfizer to predict it will weather the next wave of patent expirations that is set to start in 2026.

At its virtual investor day Tuesday, Pfizer predicted (PDF) that JAK1 inhibitor abrocitinib, antisense therapy vupanorsen and a 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can generate peak annual revenues of more than $3 billion each. Pfizer also tipped its Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene therapy to rake in an excess of $2 billion and identified six other potential blockbusters.

With Pfizer tipping another five pipeline prospects to generate revenues of $500 million to $1 billion, the Big Pharma said sales of as-yet-unapproved experimental products could come to $15 billion by 2025. 

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The peak years of the experimental medicines likely lie beyond 2025. The timing of the anticipated peaks of those products coincides with the years in which Pfizer expects to face another patent cliff.

In 2026 and 2027, the U.S. basic product patents on Prevnar 13, Eliquis and Xtandi are set to expire, potentially exposing products that generated sales of $6.3 billion in Pfizer’s home market last year to off-patent competition. All told, analysts expect Pfizer to lose up to $20 billion in sales due to patent expirations starting in 2026. Pfizer’s internal forecast is “roughly in line” with analyst estimates. 

After Lyrica went off patent last year, Pfizer entered a window in which its portfolio is virtually free from the loss of exclusivity through to 2026. The lull gives Pfizer a period to get some of its pipeline prospects to market and start growing their sales, leading management to predict the current slate of experimental assets will at least replace the revenues lost to off-patent rivals starting in 2026. 

That prediction rests on Pfizer’s ability to get key pipeline products to market. Pfizer used the virtual event to claim a growing effectiveness in that regard. As of 2015, 5% of the drugs Pfizer took into the clinic went on to win approval. By 2019, that figure had increased to 9%, causing Pfizer’s success rate to go from well below the industry average to slightly above the performance of its peers. 

Pfizer also noted an improved phase 2 success rate. In 2017, 17% of Pfizer’s phase 2 trials succeeded. Since then, Pfizer has averaged 46%. The success rate so far this year stands at 53%. Pfizer claims to be moving faster, too, stating it is on course to reduce development timelines by 2.5 years between 2017 and 2021. Automation of processes accounts for the biggest anticipated time saving.

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