Pfizer CEO Bourla says company ready to execute in a 'pivotal' 2023: report

After Pfizer launched to pandemic superstar status with its BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, the company has something to prove with its next few launches. And next year is setting up to be a pivotal year for the drugmaker, one that could feature up to 10 new launches, CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., said in an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit.

Next year, Pfizer aims to launch five "new vaccines" plus two medicines each in oncology and immuno-inflammation, Bourla said at the event.

At least one of those vaccine launches could come in the form of Pfizer's RSV vaccine in older adults. After posting positive phase 3 data this summer, the company said it was gearing up for regulatory filings this fall.

Other late-stage vaccines in the company's pipeline (PDF) include programs against C. difficile and Men. ABCWY as well as the pediatric version of Prevnar 20.

In oncology, the company has more than a handful of phase 3 programs, but most are testing potential label expansions for approved drugs. As for unapproved candidates in that category, Pfizer has sasanlimab in non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer and elranatamab in multiple myeloma in late-stage testing.

A Pfizer spokesperson also flagged the combination of Talzenna and Xtandi for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer as an "anticipated" oncology launch based on a phase 3 readout.

Further, Pfizer has ritlecitinib in alopecia areata and etrasimod in ulcerative colitis gearing up for their eventual market debuts.

In all, Pfizer's pipeline had 104 projects in testing as of late July. At the Yahoo Finance event, Bourla called the company's pipeline its "biggest competitive advantage."

Pfizer’s typical launch rate is one or two launches per year, Bourla said at the Yahoo Finance event. The CEO acknowledged the difficulty of pulling together 10 new medicines on both the manufacturing side and on the sales side, but he nonetheless believes in “the strength of our commercial organization, and the strength of our manufacturing organization."

Looking beyond 2023, Pfizer expects to lose patent protection on $17 billion to $20 billion worth of its existing product sales between 2026 and 2029. Aside from that pressure on its business, Pfizer also will have to face an eventual decline for its COVID-19 superstars Comirnaty and Paxlovid.

To help offset those declines, Pfizer aims to bring in $25 billion in new revenue from external dealmaking by 2030.

On that front, Pfizer has been active lately. Just a few months ago, the company snapped up sickle cell disease specialist Global Blood Therapeutics for $5.4 billion. Before that, the drugmaker spent $11.6 billion buying its migraine partner Biohaven, taking control of the fast-growing product Nurtec.

And back when Bourla first started as CEO, the company bought out Array BioPharma for $11.4 billion, beefing up its oncology presence.

Going forward, Bourla said at Yahoo Finance's event that the company's dealmaking streak will continue, but in a “very disciplined” manner. The company has a pro dealmaker in its ranks, with David Denton joining the company in April as chief financial officer. Denton served as CFO at CVS when the company bought Aetna in a $69 billion acquisition.