Pfizer profit falls 19 percent

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2012 file photo, boxes of the drug Relpax, made by Pfizer, are displayed in Surfside, Fla (AP Photo / Wilfredo Lee, File)

Drugmaker Pfizer, Inc., said Tuesday that its profit fell 19 percent in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012.

Based in Manhattan with a big operation in Collegeville, Pfizer cited generic competition as the main cause of declines in revenue and profit. A link to Pfizer's press release and numbers is here.

Pfizer has been re-organizing in hopes of improving efficiency. Part of that was spinning off its animal health unit, Zoetis, which was completed in June.

Pfizer's revenue declined from $12.953 billion in the third quarter of 2012 to $12.643 billion in the third quarter of 2013, a decline of 2 percent. The company's profit declined from $3.208 billion in the third quarter of 2012 to $2.59 billion in the third quarter of 2013.

The cholesterol medicine Lipitor was the best-selling drug in the world, but the U.S. patent expired in November 2011 and generic competition arrived immediately, but especially six months later. Sales of the more expensive Lipitor have fallen ever since. In the third quarter, for example, sales fell from $749 million to $533 million, a decline of 29 percent when currency exchange is included.

Some Pfizer employees in Collegeville work in the oncology section and that business increased 26 percent operationally, Pfizer said.

“Overall, I am very pleased with our continued and steady progress, on many fronts, to drive greater value for our shareholders," Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said in a statement. "We continue to generate solid financial results on an operational basis, despite the impact of product losses of exclusivity and the ongoing expiration of the Spiriva collaboration in certain countries as well as the challenging operating environment. Within our innovative businesses, during third-quarter 2013, revenues from our oncology business increased 26% operationally due to the continued strong performance of new products, primarily Inlyta and Xalkori in several major markets. In addition, other key patent-protected products performed well operationally, notably Lyrica, which grew 11%, and Celebrex, which grew 13%. With regard to recently launched products, Eliquis prescription trends continue to improve, and we recently began our direct-to-consumer campaign in the U.S.; in addition, Xeljanz continues to perform in line with our expectations.”

Companies prefer to exclude one-time charges from the numbers they discuss with Wall Street. But this quarter's profit figure was hurt by a $490.9 million charge related to settlement of criminal and civil allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that Wyeth, which Pfizer bought in 2009, had illegally marketed its drug Rapamune. The drug is used to prevent the body’s immune system from rejecting a transplanted organ.

The July 30 announcement by the Justice Department is here.

“ FDA’s drug approval process ensures companies market their products for uses proven safe and effective,” Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in the statement. “We will hold accountable those who put patients’ health at risk in pursuit of financial gain.”