Pfizer ups 2021 COVID-19 vaccine sales once again, but it remains coy about future sales

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After producing 3 billion COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, Pfizer says it will manufacture 4 billion in 2022. (Fierce Pharma)

With Pfizer speeding along following a recent COVID-19 booster approval and a nod for the shot’s use in children aged 5 to 11, the company has bumped (PDF) its projection for 2021 sales of its Comirnaty vaccine once again. The company now expects a whopping $36 billion in sales this year, up from a prior projection of $33.5 billion.

So what about next year? Just as it has done throughout 2021, Pfizer remains hesitant to project future revenues and is unwilling to speculate beyond the contracts that have already been signed.

When the company presented its third quarter earnings on Tuesday, it said that those agreements add up to $29 billion in 2022 sales of 1.7 billion doses.

“We’ll continue to update the numbers for 2022 based on the contracts that we’ve signed,” Pfizer CFO Frank D’Amelio said. “This year as we’ve updated our guidance each quarter, we’ve been able to increase our revenue guidance for the COVID vaccine because of incremental contracts, signed from one quarter to the next.”

Pfizer is on track to produce 3 billion doses this year and will have distributed 2.3 billion by the end of the year, it said. Next year the company says it will produce 4 billion doses as it has increased the efficiency of its manufacturing process.

D’Amelio said that Pfizer has cut the time it takes to produce the vaccine from 110 days to 30.

“Capacity will not be a challenge for us,” he said.

RELATED: Pfizer eyes $26B in COVID-19 vaccine sales for the year, with $3.5B already in the bag

More than 75% of the revenues recorded for Comirnaty have come from supplying countries outside of the United States, the company said. Pfizer has pledged to deliver 2 billion doses to middle- and lower-income countries through 2022, with 1 billion of those provided on a not-for-profit basis to the U.S., which will send them free of charge to the world’s poorest countries. At least half of the 2 billion pledge will be supplied by the end of this year, the company said.

As for supplying vaccines to developed countries in 2022, CEO Albert Bourla said that the company is in negotiations with many nations.

Fueled by the vaccine revenues, Pfizer reported sales of $24.1 billion in the quarter, a 130% increase from last year. Excluding Comirnaty, revenues still were up by 7%, to $11.1 billion. The company now projects annual revenue to come in between $81 and $82 million.

Sales of blood thinner Eliquis came in at $1.35 billion, a 19% increase on the third quarter of last year, due in part to continued adoption in non-valvular atrial fibrillation and oral anti-coagulant market share gains.

RELATED: Pfizer now expects COVID vaccine sales to reach $33.5B this year, a whopping $7.5B bump from its estimate 3 months ago

Heart failure drugs Vyndaqel and Vyndamax generated $501 million, an increase of 42% in third quarter thanks largely to continued uptake in the rare heart disease transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy in the U.S. But the showing didn't measure up to the 77% increase the franchise chalked up year-over-year in the second quarter.

Sales for Xeljanz were at $610 million, a 7% drop from last year, while oncology drug Ibrance came in at $1.38 billion, a 1% increase. Revenue for vaccines from the Prevnar family were at $1.45 billion, a 7% decrease from 2020.

The drop was driven primarily by a 36% decline in the adult indication in the U.S. thanks to the “ongoing prioritization of primary and booster vaccination campaigns for COVID-19 by U.S. health authorities," Bourla said.

Analysts noted that the positive vaccine news somewhat overshadowed the shaky performance of several of Pfizer's key brands.   

The vaccine numbers "more than offset weakness across Prevnar, Ibrance, Vyndaqel and Xeljanz in the quarter—largely reaffirming the narrative of Comirnaty outperformance and questions over core business growth," wrote Barclays in a note to investors.