Amid COVID slump, Pfizer turns attention to RSV launch and a potential future in obesity

As COVID revenues dwindle for pandemic stalwart Pfizer, the company is turning attention to its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine launch and a potential entry into the hot obesity market.

With only five months of sales under its belt, Pfizer's RSV vaccine Abrysvo is “doing better than we thought,” Chief Commercial Officer Angela Hwang said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call, touting “very fast uptake" for the new shot.

After a pair of approvals in late May and August, Abrysvo pulled in revenues of $375 million during the third quarter, Pfizer said Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the shot won FDA nods to immunize older adults and then as a maternal vaccination to protect infants. In both settings, the Pfizer offering is facing off against Big Pharma competition.

In the adult RSV vaccine marketplace, Pfizer is challenging GSK and its immunization Arexvy. GSK is set to report its third-quarter results Wednesday.

And, in the infant RSV marketplace, Sanofi and AstraZeneca are marketing their prophylactic antibody Beyfortus. Sanofi recently said the antibody generated 137 million euros in the third quarter.

Elsewhere, Pfizer is also eyeing a potential foray into the obesity ring, where more pharma competition would await. Pfizer's oral GLP-1 candidate danuglipron is currently being studied in a phase 2b trial, with a readout expected before the year's end, CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., said. Pfizer aims to quickly move the prospect into phase 3 after seeing the midstage results.

“Speed is of the essence in this battle between competing molecules,” the CEO added.  

Danuglipron is the company’s “main opportunity and effort” for the obesity market, Bourla said, after Pfizer dropped its lotiglipron earlier this year over liver-related safety concerns. While the current version of danuglipron must be taken twice daily, the company is working on a once-a-day reformulation as well.

In the meantime, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are riding the momentum of their new and forthcoming obesity offerings. The companies have recently become the most valuable drugmakers in the U.S. and Europe, respectively.

At Pfizer, “expected” declines in COVID products Paxlovid and Comirnaty sank the company's overall third-quarter revenues by a whopping 41% to $13.2 billion. Excluding the COVID portfolio, Pfizer said its sales rose 10% compared with the same period last year.

Corminaty sales nosedived by 70%, while antiviral Paxlovid was on the brink of fading completely with a 97% drop. Both meds “meaningfully underperformed already tempered expectations,” Third Bridge analyst Lee Brown wrote in a note to clients.

On the flip side, the company's Vyndaqel franchise grew sales 47% to $892 million during the quarter. The Prevnar vaccine franchise also provided a meaningful boost, growing sales 15% to $1.84 billion in the quarter.