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Pfizer Q4 Oncology Revenues Grow Seven Percent Despite Ibrance, Xalkori Slowdowns

NEW YORK – Pfizer on Tuesday reported its fourth quarter revenues more than doubled compared to 2020, driven by sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, while its oncology business saw modest growth in Q4.

The New York-based firm reported total revenues of $23.84 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared to $11.63 billion in Q4 2020, missing analysts' average revenue estimate of $24.2 billion.

Pfizer reported a seven percent increase in revenue for its oncology unit in Q4. Its top-selling cancer drug, CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance (palbociclib), a treatment for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, saw a three percent decrease in worldwide sales last quarter, falling to $1.40 billion from $1.44 billion in Q4 2020.

Ibrance sales saw a seven percent drop in the US, earning $879 million last quarter compared to $945 million in 2020. International sales of the drug, however, grew seven percent, driven by emerging markets and developed countries outside of Europe. Total international sales reached $519 million in Q4 compared to $491 million the previous year.

The decline in Ibrance sales was caused by the patient assistance program, Angela Hwang, group president for Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, said on a call to discuss the company's financials. Hwang noted that prescriptions through the patient assistance program increased 32 percent in Q4 of 2021 compared to the previous year. Compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, use of the patient assistance program is up 53 percent, she added.

"This is really what has cost us a tremendous amount of paid prescriptions," she said. "We also saw some slow down in new patient starts [on Ibrance], but we've seen this phenomenon for multiple products in our portfolio, so there's a small contribution from that."

The firm's first-generation ALK inhibitor, Xalkori (crizotinib), had decreased sales in the fourth quarter, while its newer ALK inhibitor Lorbrena (lorlatinib) saw growth. Worldwide sales of Xalkori, a treatment for ALK-positive or ROS1-positive non-small cell lung cancer and ALK-positive pediatric anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, fell 10 percent to $122 million from $135 million the previous year.

Global sales of Lorbrena, also a treatment for ALK-positive NSCLC, jumped 18 percent to $73 million from $62 million the previous year. US sales of the drug saw a greater increase, with sales jumping 24 percent from $31 million in 2020 to $38 million last quarter. Last month, Lorbrena, called Lorviqua in Europe, received European Commission approval for the first-line treatment of advanced ALK-positive NSCLC, expanding its indication from second- and third-line NSCLC.

Pfizer's BRAF inhibitor Braftovi (encorafenib) and MEK inhibitor Mektovi (binimetinib) also saw sales growth during Q4. The Braftovi-Mektovi combination is approved in the US as a treatment for BRAF-mutated melanoma. Braftovi combined with Eli Lilly's Erbitux (cetuximab) is also approved for BRAF-mutated colorectal cancer. Braftovi sales increased 13 percent to $51 million in Q4 versus $45 million last year. Mektovi's sales jumped eight percent to $42 million from $39 million in Q4 2020.

In the fourth quarter, Pfizer completed its $2.2 billion acquisition of Trillium Therapeutics, a clinical-stage oncology company developing CD47 blocking agents. The firm's two lead candidates, TTI-622 and TTI-621, are being studied in biomarker-defined blood cancer patients.

Pfizer also made a $15 million equity investment in Cardiff Oncology in Q4. The investment will help advance Cardiff's PLK1 inhibitor onvansertib, which is being studied in KRAS-mutated metastatic colorectal, pancreatic, and castration-resistant prostate cancer. Pfizer purchased 2.4 million shares of Cardiff's common stock at a price of $6.22 per share in November. Under the deal, Pfizer gained rights of first access to data from Cardiff's development programs.

Pfizer's reported net income in Q4 was $3.39 billion, or $.60 per share, in Q4 2021 compared to $847 million, or EPS of $.15, in Q4 2020. The company's adjusted EPS for Q4 was $1.08 and beat analysts' consensus estimate of $.87.

The firm's research and development expenses in Q4 were $5.92 billion, up from Q4 2020 when it spent $3.35 billion on R&D. Pfizer also spent $4.10 billion on selling, informational, and administrative expenses in Q4 compared to $3.75 billion in Q4 2020, a nine percent increase.

For full-year 2021, Pfizer reported total revenues of $81.29 billion, nearly doubling its 2020 full-year revenue, which was $41.65 billion. The company's reported net income in FY 2021 was $21.98 billion, or $3.92 per share, compared to $9.20 billion, or $1.65 per share, in 2020. On an adjusted basis, its EPS for 2021 was $4.42.

In 2021, Pfizer's R&D spending increased 47 percent to $13.83 billion compared to $9.39 billion in 2020. The company's selling, informational, and administrative expenses also increased last year to $12.70 billion, a 10 percent increase from $11.60 billion in 2020.

For full-year 2021, global sales of Ibrance reached $5.44 billion, slightly above sales of $5.39 billion for the drug in 2020. Pfizer's first-generation ALK inhibitor Xalkori saw a nine percent decrease in 2021 sales from $554 million to $493 million. However, it's newer ALK inhibitor Lorbrena saw a 30 percent increase in global sales to $266 million in 2021, compared to $204 million in 2020. Pfizer's BRAF inhibitor and MEK inhibitor combination, Braftovi and Mektovi, also saw revenue growth in 2021. Braftovi had $187 million in 2021 sales compared to $160 million in 2020, a 16 percent jump. Mektovi sales increased nine percent to $155 million in 2021 from $142 million the previous year.

Pfizer expects 2022 revenues of $98 billion to $102 billion. The midpoint of that guidance range would represent a 23 percent increase from 2021 revenues. The company projected EPS in the range of $6.35 to $6.55.