US giant Pfizer, the world’s number one pharmaceutical company, saw its third quarter results hit by a plethora of challenges as its faced a sharp drop off in sales of its COX-2 inhibitor portfolio and its infamous blue pill Viagra (sildenafil) was hit by competition in the erectile dysfunction field. Revenues tumbled 5% to $12.2 billion dollars, as the company’s human health sector suffered a 7% drop to $10.5 billion. And net income too took a turn for the worse, more than halving to $1.6 billion from $3.3 billion for the third quarter last year.

"The third quarter of 2005 was characterized by both accomplishments and challenges," said Hank McKinnell, chairman and chief executive officer. “Revenues in the third quarter of 2005 reflected lower prescription growth and increased competition in key therapeutic markets in the US, such as the lipid-lowering market, where the rate of growth in the third quarter declined significantly versus the first half of the year; and the erectile-dysfunction market, which has been in decline compared to 2004. The effects of these considerations are expected to temper fourth-quarter revenues as well.”

For the full year, Pfizer has downgraded its revenue predictions because of the poorly-performing human health business, and says reported diluted earnings per share in 2005 of $1.02-$1.04 is now anticipated, compared to a previous estimate of about $1.24. It has also scrapped its guidance for 2006/2007 and will provide new expectations at the beginning of next year.