Pfizer anticipates billions less in revenue this year as vaccines commercialized

FILE – A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 in New York. Pfizer reports their earnings Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Pfizer executives said the company expects a significant drop in revenue in 2023 compared to 2022 as the U.S. government ends its purchase agreement for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

During its 2022 fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday, CEO Albert Bourla said he anticipates 2023 to be a “transition year” as advance government purchases end and the company’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty and antiviral treatment Paxlovid start to become available on the commercial market.

Pfizer said 2022 was a record-breaking year, as it generated nearly $57 billion in combined sales of its COVID-19 products.

The company said it anticipates $13.5 billion in sales for its vaccine this year, a decrease of 64 percent from 2022, and $8 billion in Paxlovid revenue, down 58 percent from 2022.

The company’s COVID-19 windfall shows just how reliant it was on federal government contracts. Bourla said the government still has a “significant” supply that needs to be distributed, which will last until about the second half of the year. 

“Around that time, we expect to start selling Comiranty through commercial channels at commercial prices,” Bourla said.

Two key changes will lead to commercialization: the end of the U.S. government’s public health emergency declaration and the depletion of the federally purchased supply. The White House on Monday said it plans to end the public health emergency in May.

Pfizer executives have not officially disclosed what the company will charge for its vaccine on the commercial market but have previously said it could be between $110 and $130 a dose. 

Bourla said demand for vaccines is expected to drop this year as fewer people receive a primary dose. About 31 percent of the U.S. population received a vaccine in 2022, and the company expects that to drop to about 24 percent as fewer people comply with recommendations.

“While patient demand for our COVID products is expected to remain strong throughout 2023, much of that demand is expected to be fulfilled by products that were delivered to governments in 2022 and recorded as revenues last year,” Chief Financial Officer David Denton said.

Pfizer expects to account for about 64 percent of the share of all COVID-19 vaccinations in 2023. Including the existing government supply, the company said it anticipates distributing 65 million doses, compared to 92 million doses in 2022. 

“Fewer people are expected to receive their primary doses, and for the most part only those who are older or at higher risk are expected to continue receiving more than one booster per year,” Bourla said. 

However, the company also expects there to be more infections globally in 2023 due to waning immunity. About 17 percent of those infections are expected to be treated with Paxlovid, an increase from 12 percent in 2022.

Executives did not anticipate any new variants that would result in increased vaccination rates. 

Bourla also mentioned the company’s combined vaccine for COVID-19 and flu, which is still in clinical trials. If it is successful and ultimately gets approved, it could “bring the percentage of Americans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine closer to the portion of people getting flu shots,” which is currently about 50 percent, Bourla said.

Tags Albert Bourla Comirnaty covid vaccines Paxlovid pfizer

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