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Pfizer sales dip during year of restructuring

Published on 25/01/08 at 05:12pm

Pfizer's pharmaceutical sales fell slightly last year, hit by patent expiries and difficult market conditions for its leading drug Lipitor.

It was a time of wide-ranging change at the world's largest pharma company, with headcount cut by more than 11,000 and the closure of six manufacturing sites and two R&D sites during 2007.

The measures are of a package aimed at refocusing the company and Pfizer expects to save at least $1.5 to $2 billion this year as a result.

But the upheaval combined with a challenging environment saw the company's 2007 pharmaceutical sales fall by 1% to $44.6 billion.

Sales of its blockbuster anti-cholesterol treatment Lipitor dropped by 2% to $13 billion, mainly due to competition in the US statin market, and two other top-selling drugs lost US patent protection.

Antidepressant Zoloft and hypertension and angina treatment Norvasc (known as Istin outside the US) almost halved their sales during 2007 as a result, wiping $3.4 billion from the company's balance sheet in the process.

In the face of these challenges chief executive Jeff Kindler said the company was following a broad plan to re-position itself to deliver long-term value.

"We are shifting investments into high-priority therapeutic areas, revamping our R&D operations and acquiring new compounds and technologies that we believe are especially promising. These actions taken together have made Pfizer a stronger company than it was a year ago, and we look forward to continued progress in 2008," he said.

Overall revenue was up 1% to $48.6 billion in 2007, but the situation is not expected to improve much this year. Pfizer's revenue guidance for 2008 predicts it will finish the year at $47-$49 billion.

The company is already warning its first-quarter may not compare well to last year's because of the continued impact of Norvasc's US patent expiry and forthcoming loss of exclusivity on cancer drug Camptosar and Zyrtec.

Pfizer hopes to mitigate the impact of the latter by launched an OTC version of the allergy pill. Nevertheless, the two expiring patents put at risk quarterly US sales of over $1 billion.

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