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Pfizer's Oncology Business Grows Sales 4 Percent in Q1

NEW YORK – Pfizer on Tuesday reported a 77 percent increase in Q1 2022 revenues, with a 4 percent growth in its oncology business.

The New York-based firm reported $25.66 billion in revenues for the three months ended March 31 compared to $14.52 billion in Q1 2021. The company's Q1 revenues surpassed analysts' average estimate of $23.86 billion. Pfizer's revenue growth was largely driven by sales of two COVID-19 products. Excluding those, the company reported 2 percent operational revenue growth in Q1.

Pfizer's top-selling oncology drug, the CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance (palbociclib), saw a 1 percent decrease in revenue worldwide to $1.24 billion in Q1 2022 compared to $1.25 billion in Q1 2021. During the same period, US sales of Ibrance fell 5 percent to $753 million from $794 million, and international sales increased 5 percent to $484 million from $460 million.

Angela Hwang, group president for Pfizer's biopharmaceuticals group, noted in a call to discuss the company's financials that the decrease in sales was due to more patients receiving Ibrance through the firm's assistance program. The company has seen a 32 percent increase in applications for the patient assistance program in Q1 2022 compared to the year-ago quarter, Hwang said, even though total prescription volume for Ibrance grew 3 percent in the US in the first quarter.

"From an annual perspective, patients enroll [in the program] in January and they stay for the rest of the year, so what we're seeing now is approximately what we're going to continue to see for the remainder of the year," Hwang said. "This does not mean that there is no growth opportunity for Ibrance in 2022. We know that there is a tremendous growth opportunity in the CDK [inhibitor] class and our ability to make this pie bigger is going to be great for patients as well."

Pfizer will also continue to focus on addressing the decrease in diagnosis and treatment starts for patients with metastatic breast cancer caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hwang said.

During the first quarter, sales for the firm's first-generation ALK inhibitor for non-small cell lung cancer, Xalkori (crizotinib), decreased 6 percent to $127 million in Q1 2022 from $134 million year over year. During the same period, sales of Xalkori in the US fell 13 percent to $24 million from $28 million, and in international markets, sales dropped 4 percent to $103 million from $107 million.

However, the firm's second-generation ALK inhibitor, Lorbrena (lorlatinib), increased sales 21 percent to $72 million in Q1 2022 from $60 million in Q1 2021. Pfizer executives also discussed updated data from the Phase III CROWN trial presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting last month, which showed that in the first-line setting, Lorbrena improved progression-free survival for ALK-positive NSCLC patients with and without brain metastases compared to Xalkori.

According to Pfizer CSO Mikael Dolsten, between 25 percent and 40 percent of ALK-positive NSCLC patients present with brain metastasis at diagnosis and a similar proportion will develop brain metastases within two years. At three years of follow-up in the CROWN trial, 92.3 percent of Lorbrena-treated patients were alive and free of intracranial events compared to 37.7 percent of Xalkori-treated patients.

"Leveraging our expertise in developing brain-penetrant quality treatments, Lorbrena was specifically designed to meet this significant unmet need, and we have seen high activity in patients with or without baseline brain metastasis," Dolsten said during the call. "Significant intracranial activity was observed with Lorbrena, as evidenced not only by intracranial response rates but also by time-to-intracranial progression."

Pfizer's BRAF inhibitor Braftovi (encorafenib) and MEK inhibitor Mektovi (binimetinib) combination also saw sales growth in Q1. In the first quarter, Braftovi generated $48 million in sales, a 2 percent increase form $47 million in Q1 in 2021. Over the same period, Mektovi sales grew 15 percent to $40 million from $35 million.

The Braftovi-Mektovi combination is approved in the US as a treatment for BRAF-mutated melanoma, and Braftovi combined with Eli Lilly's Erbitux (cetuximab) is also approved for BRAF-mutated colorectal cancer. In the second half of 2022, Pfizer expects to report pivotal data from a Phase II study of Braftovi and Mektovi in BRAF V600E-mutant metastatic NSCLC.

Pfizer's reported net income in Q1 was $7.86 billion, or $1.37 per share, compared to $4.88 billion, or $.86 per share, in Q1 2021. On an adjusted basis, the company's EPS was $1.62, above analysts' consensus estimate of $1.47.

The company spent $2.30 billion on research and development in Q1 2022, a 15 percent increase from $1.99 billion during the same period last year. Its selling, informational, and administrative expenses decreased by 7 percent to $2.59 billion in Q1 2022 from $2.78 billion in Q1 2021.

Pfizer is still expecting 2022 revenues to be in the range of $98 billion and $102 billion. However, the firm revised its adjusted EPS guidance for the year to between $6.25 to $6.45. Previously, Pfizer had project adjusted EPS in the range of $6.35 and $6.55.