Pfizer has reported flat sales for the first quarter while net income rose 10% to $2.22 billion, beating analyst estimates.

Turnover came in at $16.58 billion, while biopharmaceutical sales slipped 2% to $13.95 billion. Revenues from the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin) fell 13% to $2.39 billion, hit by competition from other statins and the loss of patent protection in Canada and Spain.

Generic competition also hurt the blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine), which fell 3% to $356 million, while the COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) was up 4% to $591 million. The erectile dysfunction blockbuster Viagra (sildenafil) brought in $470 million, down 2%, while the glaucoma drug Xalatan (latanoprost) had sales of $392 million (-7%).

Lyrica, Prevnar on the rise

Sales of Lyrica (pregabalin), for epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, increased 14% to $826 million, while the kidney cancer treatment Sutent (sunitinib) was up 7% to $108 million. The smoking cessation drug Chantix/Champix (varenicline) rose 5% to $199 million.__

As for products Pfizer got hold of through its acquisition of Wyeth, the antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) contributed just $204 million, down 72% as a result of generic competition, though there were strong performances for the pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar 13 franchise ($996 million; + 248%) and the arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept; $870 million outside North America; +8%).

Wyeth’s antibiotic Zosyn/Tazocin (piperacillin/tazobactam) brought in $179 million, down 32%, while the Premarin (conjugated oestrogens) range of hormone replacement therapies contributed $235 million to Pfizer’s coffers, a decrease of 8%.

Chief executive Ian Read said he was pleased "not only with our solid financial performance during the first quarter despite the loss of exclusivity of several products in the USA and other geographies, but also with our ability to enhance shareholder value through various initiatives", notably a share repurchase programme. He added that Pfizer's emerging markets unit delivered 8% operational growth, "driven by many of our priority countries, notably China, and continued to benefit from our ongoing targeted investment".

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Mr Read went on to say that "we are well positioned to succeed in fixing our innovative core, which, if successful, can lead to greater value in both the near and longer-term". During this year, the company expects to present Phase III data for tofacitinib in rheumatoid arthritis, axitinib for renal cell carcinoma, Prevnar/Prevenar 13 for the prevention of pneumococcal disease in adults, and Eliquis (apixaban), partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation, as well as Phase II data for crizotinib for non-small cell lung cancer, among others.

Last month, Pfizer announced plans to sell off its Capsugel unit to an affiliate of investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for nearly $2.4 billion in cash and Mr Read is widely expected to start selling off its non-core businesses. The CEO limited himself to saying that "we remain focused on continuing the evaluation of our business portfolio to determine the optimal mix of businesses to maximise our return".

He added that "we expect to complete this evaluation during the second half of 2011".