On the day its merger with Pfizer was unveiled, Wyeth has posted a solid if unspectacular set of financials for the fourth quarter.

Net income was $960.4 million, down 5.6%, while group sales were down 7%, or 1% excluding currency factors, to $5.35 billion. Pharmaceutical revenues contributed $4.41 billion; -7%) and the most impressive performances came from the pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar, which grew 8% to $603 million, and the arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept), which were up 6% to $598 million (excluding the USA and Canada, where it is co-marketed with Amgen; alliance revenue there was up 13% to $301 million).

Wyeth’s best-seller continues to be the antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine), though sales were down 7% to $902 million. The firm’s Premarin (conjugated oestrogens) range of hormone replacement therapies dipped 1% to $261 million, while the antibiotic Zosyn/Tazocin (piperacillin/tazobactam) were up 2% to $298 million.

As for the antiulcerant Protonix (pantoprazole), sales sank 60% to $185 million as a result of ‘at risk’ generic launches in the USA by Teva and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries. Chief executive Bernard Poussot, said that “Wyeth met its expectations in 2008 despite external pressures,” helped by “consistent contributions from our core product franchises – Enbrel, Prevnar and its nutritionals portfolio, which slipped 2% to $385 million.

He added that “our diversified revenue base helped lessen the impact of the global economic downturn and the at-risk launch of generic versions of Protonix.”

Commenting on the link-up with Pfizer, Mr Poussot said “because we were early to see the potential of biotechnology to create life-changing medicines, we now have a strong franchise” which includes Enbrel, the number one biotechnology product in the world. He added that Wyeth and Pfizer “are highly complementary businesses, and together we can build the best diversified health care company in the world. [We] can accomplish far more together in the years ahead than either company could have achieved on its own.”