Pfizer's sales and earnings have been hit as a result of generic competition to the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, and the firm has taken a charge of $491 million to settle a US government investigation into illegal marketing of the transplant drug Rapamune.

Third-quarter net income decreased 14% to $3.20 billion, while group turnover was $13.98 billion, down 16%. Biopharmaceutical sales decreased 18% to $12.12 billion and Lipitor (atorvastatin) fell 71% to  $749 million, hit by competition from other statins and the loss of patent protection.

The blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine) fell 9% to $319 million, while the erectile dysfunction blockbuster Viagra (sildenafil) brought in $517 million, up 5%. The glaucoma drug Xalatan (latanoprost) slumped 35% to $181 million.

Sales of Lyrica (pregabalin), for epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, increased 8% to $1.04 million, while the kidney cancer treatment Sutent (sunitinib) dipped 1% to $294 million. However, the smoking cessation drug Chantix/Champix (varenicline) slipped 6% to $146 million.

As for products Pfizer got hold of through its acquisition of Wyeth, sales of the pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar/Prevenar 13 decreased 14% to $868 mllion. The arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept) brought in $893 million outside North America (-7%), while the antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine) fell 35% to $107 million. The Premarin (conjugated oestrogens) range of hormone replacement therapies contributed $262 million to Pfizer’s coffers, a decrease of 2%.

Chief executive Ian Read said that "despite a challenging and dynamic environment, worldwide revenues from many of our key medicines, including Enbrel, Celebrex and Lyrica, continued to grow operationally". He added that "we continued to perform well in emerging markets, most notably in China, given the breadth of our portfolio and focused investment.".

Mr Read went on to say that "with regard to our innovative core",  he is very pleased with the recent US Food and Drug Administration approval of Bosulif (bosutinib) for chronic myelogenous leukemia, as well as the green light for Inlyta (axitinib) for advanced renal cell carcinoma and conditional marketing authorisation of Xalkori (critzotinib) for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, both in the European Union. He added that "I also look forward to regulatory action for tofacitinib in moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis and Eliquis (apixaban) in atrial fibrillation in the USA, EU and Japan as well as Bosulif in key international markets".