Pfizer is one of the world's largest research-based pharmaceuticals firms, producing medicines for ailments in fields including cardiovascular health, metabolism, oncology, and inflammation and immunology. Its top prescription products include cholesterol-lowering Lipitor, pain management drugs Celebrex and Lyrica, pneumonia vaccine Prevnar, and erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra, as well as arthritis drug Enbrel, antibiotic Zyvox, and high-blood-pressure therapy Norvasc. The firm's consumer health products operations, which Pfizer plans to combine with those of GlaxoSmithKline, include such leading brands as Advil, Centrum, and Robitussin. Pfizer operates around the world but gets half of its revenues from the US.
Pfizer operates through two business segments -- Pfizer Innovative Health (IH) and Pfizer Essential Health (EH). IH is the larger segment, accounting for some 60% of total revenue. That segment focuses on the development and commercialization of novel medicines and vaccines and consumer health care products. It is engaged in areas including internal medicine, oncology, inflammation and immunology, and rare diseases.
The EH segment (which brings in about 40% of revenue) manages Pfizer's legacy brands that have lost or will lose patent protection and market exclusivity. It also manages the company's branded generics and biosimilars. The segment has research and development operations and provides contract manufacturing services.
Pfizer currently has nine blockbusters, or products that bring in more than $1 billion in revenue: Lyrica, the Prevnar13 suite, Enbrel, Ibrance, Lipitor, Viagra, Sutent, Xeljanz, and the Premarin suite of products. The company is working diligently to launch new blockbusters from its robust R&D pipeline to make up for off-patent losses. It has dozens of projects in clinical stages of development, including drugs for psoriasis, diabetes, lung cancer, pain, and infections.
While the US is Pfizer's single largest market (accounting for half of all revenues), the drug maker has a strong global presence. It operates in more than 90 international markets, including Japan (nearly 10% of sales), Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South Korea, and countries in Western Europe. The company is also growing in emerging markets such as Brazil, China (nearly 10% of sales), India, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey.
Pfizer has major manufacturing facilities in Belgium, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the US. In all, it operates some 60 plants around the world.
The company sells its products in more than 125 countries globally.
Sales and Marketing
Pfizer markets its pharmaceuticals directly to doctors, hospitals, nurses, pharmacists, retailers, clinics, benefit management firms, managed care organizations, employer groups, government agencies, and to patients themselves. Most of its sales are conducted through wholesale distributors including McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, which combined account for around 40% of annual revenues.
The company also markets directly to consumers in the US through direct advertising, including television, print, and digital ads, as well as in-store promotions. It sells its consumer health care products through distributors, pharmacies, retail chains, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other channels.
Advertising expenses total around $3 billion annually.
With the exception of 2016, Pfizer's revenues have been trending downward for the past several years. Net income took a steep decline from 2014 through 2016 but rebounded in 2017.
Revenue fell less than 1% to $52.5 billion in 2017. That slight dip was due to a shorter selling period (by one day) that year, plus the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange. Brands that had strong growth included Eliquis, Xeljanz, Lyrica, and Ibrance.
Net income nearly tripled to $21.3 billion in 2017. Factors driving that increase included a steep decline in restructuring charges, and acquisition-related costs, a 9% decrease in costs of sales, and a $9 billion benefit for income taxes.
The company ended 2017 with $1.3 billion in net cash, a 48% decline from what it had at the end of 2016. Operating activities provided $16.5 billion, while investing activities used $4.7 billion (versus $7.8 billion used in 2016) and financing activities used $13.0 billion. Financing activities included the issuance of long-term debt, the payment of cash dividends, and repayments on long-term debt.
Pfizer has ambitions to become the premier pharmaceutical firm by 2020. It has been challenged in that goal by numerous patent expirations and failed merger attempts, but has been successful in getting regulatory approvals to launch new products.
In 2016 Pfizer and Ireland-based Allergan terminated their planned merger, which would have been the largest-ever health care deal. The $160 billion transaction would have created the world's largest drug maker, surpassing Johnson & Johnson. The failed deal was structured as an inversion merger, through which Pfizer would have adopted Allergan's home in tax-friendly Ireland. However, pushback from the US government (seeking to prevent losing corporate taxes) ultimately proved too much for the two companies, and the deal was canceled.
After the Allergan deal was called off, Pfizer began considering its options including making new acquisitions, divesting various operations, and splitting into two businesses. In 2016, the company announced that it would not split into two but would rather continue to operate its two distinct businesses with their own strategies for growth and increasing operational efficiency. In the IH segment, the focus is on expanding its portfolio through R&D and acquisitive means. (Its $14 billion acquisition of cancer biotech Medivation fit in with efforts to expand its oncology portfolio.) The EH segment is focused on managing its portfolio, strengthening its core brands while divesting others.
Two years after its 2015 $17 billion acquisition of Hospira, Pfizer sold Hospira Infusion Systems (HIS) to ICU Medical for $1 billion. HIS was Pfizer's global infusion therapy business and included IV pumps and devices. Through the deal, Pfizer gained a stake of about 17% in ICU Medical.
In early 2018 the company announced it would shut down its Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease discover and early development operations; it will redistribute research funds to other areas.
Later that year, the company announced plans to combine its consumer health division, which includes such products as Advil, with that of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The resulting joint venture will be 68%-owned by GSK. to create a majority-owned joint venture. Prior to that deal's announcement, Pfizer had been seeking buyers for the unit.
In terms of R&D, Pfizer is concentrating on biosimilars, immunology and inflammation, metabolic disease and cardiovascular risks, oncology, and vaccines. Pfizer has also increasingly relied on partnerships to build its R&D activities, including some team-ups with fellow top pharma companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb (cardiovascular and metabolic candidates), and GlaxoSmithKline (HIV). In 2018 the company spun off much of its neuroscience R&D business to a new company named Cerevel Therapeutics (of which it holds a 25% stake). It made a similar move in 2017 when it released its rare disease assets to a new company named SpringWorks.
Recent regulatory wins include the 2018 FDA approval of VIZIMPRO for the treatment of lung cancer.
In 2018 there were shortages of Pfizer's life-saving allergy medication EpiPen, and in some markets it was out of stock. Separately, the company recalled packages of Children's Advil because the dosage cup was marked in teaspoons rather than milliliters (a problem which could lead to overdoses).
Mergers and Acquisitions
Pfizer has made a number of acquisitions to beef up its development-stage and commercialized offerings and ward off losses from patent expiration. In 2017 Pfizer acquired over-the-counter rights to AstraZeneca's Neksium heartburn drug in India.
In 2016, Pfizer bought Anacor Pharmaceuticals, which has a non-steroid ointment for the treatment of eczema in its pipeline, for $5.2 billion.
Also in 2016, the company acquired biopharmaceutical Medivation for $14 billion, gaining a pipeline of cancer drugs as well as prostate cancer drug Xtandi. Other deals completed that year included the purchase of Bamboo Therapeutics (gene therapies for rare diseases) and the acquisition of development and commercialization rights to AstraZeneca's late-stage small antibotics business (including rights to Zavicefta, Merrem, and Zinforo).
Pfizer was founded by cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart in 1849.
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