Pfizer's Prevnar posts $1.53B in Q4 sales, handily beating consensus

Sales for Pfizer's megablockbuster vaccine Prevnar have been gradually slipping in recent years after tremendous early uptake. But in the fourth quarter, the pneumococcal shot turned in consensus-beating sales of $1.53 billion—up 7% over the same period last year—thanks to government purchases internationally and in the U.S. 

Prevnar trounced estimates by $153 million in the fourth quarter, or 10%, besting all other products in Pfizer's innovative health segment when measured against Street expectations. 

While sales fell 7% in the U.S. during the period, international revenues soared 27%, Pfizer reported. Government purchases for the vaccine's pediatric indication and new immunization campaigns contributed to the increase. And while U.S. revenues fell, government purchases in the States also helped offset the decline. 

In all of 2017, the Prevnar franchise generated $5.6 billion in sales, down 2% versus the year before. The results come as the vaccine suffers from a lack of remaining "catch-up" population after it won a lucrative CDC recommendation back in 2014 for U.S. adults over 65. In 2015, the vaccine generated $6.25 billion in sales. 

Looking ahead, the company expects flat Prevnar sales this year after ushering in a recent price hike. In November, a company spokesperson confirmed that the vaccine will cost $179.30 per dose in the U.S. in 2018, a 6.5% jump over last year. 

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Even though Prevnar remains Pfizer's biggest product sales-wise, its sales continue to decline and the drugmaker has been working to expand its vaccine portfolio in the meantime. As part of that effort, the company pushed its next-generation pneumococcal vaccine candidate into phase 2 last year, CEO Ian Read said on Tuesday's conference call.  

The company also has a phase 3 candidate against C. diff, a phase 2 program in S. aureus and an early-stage prostate cancer vaccine, according to its online pipeline.