The announcement of Pfizer’s planned acquisition of Wyeth coincided with the firm presenting its financials for the fourth quarter which revealed a 90% slump in net income.

Net profit came in at $266 million due principally to a $2.3-billion charge taken to settle lawsuits concerning the pain drugs Bextra (valdecoxib). Worldwide turnover was down 4% to $12.35 billion, and pharmaceutical sales also declined 4%, reaching $11.24 billion.

Sales of the blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) were down 8% to $3.15 billion and fell 13% in the USA as it continues to fight for market share with other therapies, notably the generic version of Merck & Co’s rival statin Zocor (simvastatin).

Generic competition battered sales of the antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine), down 99% to $4 million, the colorectal cancer drug Camptosar (irinotecan), which suffered a fall of 56% to $112 million and the blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine), down 16% to $542 million. Sales of the smoking cessation drug Chantix/Champix (varenicline) fell 36% to $180 million, amid continuing safety concerns.

Still there was much to pleased about, notably sales of Lyrica (pregabalin), for epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, which jumped 25% to $702 million. The kidney cancer treatment Sutent (sunitinib) climbed 21% to $220 million, while the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil) edged up 1% to $502 million. The COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) climbed 4% to $664 million.

More job cuts
More eye-catching was Pfizer’s announcement of a new cost-cutting initiative that will include the elimination of 10% of its worldwide workforce of 81,900. The restructuring involves eliminating five of the company's 46 manufacturing sites and combining similar business units.

Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio predicted the latest measures will "achieve anticipated incremental savings of approximately $3 billion by the end of 2011." He added that as part of the proposed acquisition of Wyeth, “we expect to achieve synergies of approximately $4 billion by the end of 2012, which will be in addition to the savings from our previous cost-reduction initiatives”.

For 2009, Pfizer expects to generate revenues of $44-$46 billion, and adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.85-$1.95, “which includes most of the anticipated $1 billion investment intended to create new sources of revenue”, Mr D’Amelio said.