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Pfizer takes giant step forward

Published on 23/01/04 at 11:31am

The pharmaceutical industry's biggest company Pfizer has restated its dominance with renewed growth in sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and full year 2003.

The US giant has succeeded in building on its acquisition of marketing partner Pharmacia in April 2003 with sales growth of 52% to $14.2 billion and 40% to $45.2 billion for the fourth quarter and full year respectively.

The company also reported 10% growth in earnings for both periods when one-off items were excluded - two multi-million lawsuit settlements  relating to legacy company Warner-Lambert - and costs from the Pharmacia merger.

Projected savings from the Pharmacia integration have now been increased by $400,000 to $3.4 billion, capping a remarkable year for the company.

The driving force behind the growth were its top 14 products, each leading their therapy class, including cholesterol drug Lipitor, which achieved sales of $9.23 billion in 2003, giving it nearly double full year sales of the world second biggest drug Merck Zocor.

Karen Katen, executive vice president of the company and president of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals said the company was well placed to sustain its lead and remained on course to meet its 2001-2006 target of 20 new drug applications.

"While we fully supported our marketed products with new and substantial clinical efficacy and safety data as well as physician and patient education, we also prepared to launch new products," said Ms Katen. "For example, in January the combined cardiovascular field force will introduce Inspra for heart failure in the US, bringing a breakthrough treatment to market and further expanding our industry-leading cardiovascular portfolio."

Approvals for Inspra in Europe (for post-MI heart failure) and Japan (hypertension) are both expected to follow in 2004, along with a handful of other significant new products.

Caduet, a pill combining cholesterol-lowering Lipitor and hypertension product Norvasc was filed last March in the US and in December in Europe and should gain approval in both regions in 2004.

Pfizer say Caduet will be available in a wide range of dosing combinations to treat the conditions, with 35-50% of patients having both conditions, but only 10% receiving treatment for both. The new combination will help replace the revenue loss Pfizer will see as Norvasc patents expire in territories around the world.

Meanwhile pregabalin, Pfizer's follow-up to its blockbuster CNS drug Neurotin is also expected in 2004, with a European launch anticipated first following a filing there last March. Finally, Daxas, a novel drug co-marketed with Altana is also expected to be approved shortly, and is anticipated to be the first product to gain licences for asthma and COPD simultaneously.

Indiplon, a new insomnia drug, Macugen for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Exubera, an inhaled formulation of insulin co-developed with Aventis are also expected to be filed for approval in the course of the year.

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