Pfizer's superstar jab Prevnar 13 takes a hit in Q2


Pfizer’s ($PFE) Prevnar 13 sales were down in Q2 after management laid out low projections for the vaccine in 2016. But things could pick up again for Prevnar thanks to a new FDA approval.

Sales of Prevnar 13 fell 16% in Q2 2016 over the same quarter last year. Pfizer’s vaccines unit took a hit as a result, with a 14% drop in sales from last year’s Q2.

The poor performance comes after multiple units of solid growth for Prevnar. Prevnar sales jumped 45% in Q4 2015 and 44% for full-year 2015. Those increases are largely attributed to the CDC deciding in 2014 to recommend the jab for adults older than 65.

Execs said in a conference call that the Prevnar 13 franchise continues to be a significant contributor, but with approximately 30% of the adult population 65 and older having been vaccinated as of the end of June, achieving year-over-year growth is now more difficult. “We do expect overall global Prevnar franchise sales for the year will be comparable to slightly below 2015 levels.”

Pfizer CFO Frank D’Amelio had warned that sales for the pneumococcal disease shot franchise would be flat in 2016. The latest numbers fall in line with those predictions.

“This quarter’s weakness directionally fits with management’s prior commentary warning of a slowdown in 2016 following the initial ‘catch up’ period from 2015,” Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said in a Tuesday note to investors.

But there’s still light at the end of the tunnel for Pfizer’s Prevnar franchise. Last month, Prevnar 13 got an expanded FDA approval in adults aged 18 to 49. The regulatory blessing bodes well for the New York-based pharma as it tries to reap as much as it can from its best-selling vaccine.

Pfizer isn’t putting all of its eggs in one basket, though. The company has made moves to expand its vaccines business beyond Prevnar through dealmaking and R&D.

Pfizer bought Baxter’s ($BAX) marketed vaccines portfolio for $635 million, Switzerland’s RedVax for an undisclosed sum and two GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) meningitis vaccines for $130 million. The company is also developing vaccines against S. aureus and C. diff and is working on a cancer vaccines platform that it unveiled last summer.

- here’s Pfizer’s earnings statement (PDF)

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