Pfizer's Prevnar 13 status in China escapes discussion on Q2 call

For the second quarter, Pfizer ($PFE) gave the good news about continued strong Prevnar 13 sales in the U.S. But outside of a mention of possible approval in Japan in 2017, the company gave no update abroad and more importantly on China, where in April it halted vaccine operations following failure to get a license renewal for its existing Prevnar shot as Prevnar 13 also awaits approval.

The company also faces possible competition from Chinese vaccines producer Sinovac ($SVA), which laid out R&D plans in April to test a pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine candidate that has the potential to challenge Pfizer in the Middle Kingdom and abroad.

However, Chairman and CEO Ian Read and team did offer some insight into how the 87% increase in U.S. Prevnar 13 revenues might expand abroad with a strong focus on adults.

But first, Gregg Gilbert an analyst with Deutsche Bank got Read and John Young, president of established pharma, to talk generally about China where a few companies in the past quarter spoke of a noticeable slowdown in sales and the economy as the government eyes cost controls for its massive healthcare plans.

"We remain, as we said, optimistic about the long-term in China and the emerging markets," Read said in response."We continue to see a secular movement to middle-class and wealth creation. I would ask John Young, who manages the majority of our business in the emerging markets, to make some comments specifically on China, and perhaps his view of the opportunities more broadly in emerging markets."

Young provided a bit more detail, highlighting the company's manufacturing presence and joint ventures such as Hisun-Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, noting "a portfolio frankly that is well-suited to the needs of Chinese patients, ranging from our Innovative portfolio with oncology medicines and vaccines in the future," Young said.

Pfizer's Albert Bourla

But analysts did nibble around the potential for Prevnar 13, looking for detail about demand from GAVI, which Albert Bourla, president of Vaccines, Oncology & Consumer, said depended on orders that saw a 5% overall growth in the quarter. However he did say that emerging markets likely grew 18% at the pediatric level in the second quarter for Prevnar 13, called Prevenar 13 outside of the U.S.

But in response to another question on Prevnar 13 abroad, Read said "we're going to have to work on that country by country, but we see there also, the movement of the population to over-65, plus the catch-up opportunity. So overall, when you look at those waves of opportunities, I feel that we feel that the adult vaccine is an interesting ongoing large franchise for Pfizer."

He then added a bit of detail on where the next country focus would be important to watch for adult approvals.

"Countries like Japan for example is almost double than in US in terms of percentage, 14% approximately in the U.S. to 26% 27% 28% in Japan, and this is where we expect in 2017 to start getting a wave of recommendations, now that we've got approval in Europe for pneumonia," Read said. "That as long as we get recommendation, then reinvestment comes, and then we start commercially penetrating very aggressively, as we did in the U.S."

- here are the earnings release and presentation