As expected, Pfizer's sales have been hit as a result of generic competition to the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, but earnings rose sharply on reduced research costs.

Net income increased 25% to $3.25 billion, and Pfizer noted that its R&D spend was down 24% to $1.70 billion, among other cost-reduction and productivity initiatives. Group turnover was $15.06 billion, down 9%.

Biopharmaceutical sales decreased 10% to $13.14 billion and Lipitor (atorvastatin) fell 53% to  $1.22 billion, hit by competition from other statins and the loss of patent protection in the USA: sales there fell 79% to $296 million.

The blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine) fell 7% to $348 million, while the erectile dysfunction blockbuster Viagra (sildenafil) brought in $485 million, down 2%. The glaucoma drug Xalatan (latanoprost) slumped 28% to $209 million.

Sales of Lyrica (pregabalin), for epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, increased 14% to $1.04 million, while the kidney cancer treatment Sutent (sunitinib) was up 8% to $319 million. However, the smoking cessation drug Chantix/Champix (varenicline) slipped 9% to $172 million.

As for products Pfizer got hold of through its acquisition of Wyeth, sales of the pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar/Prevenar 13 increased 12% to $916 mllion. The arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept) brought in $988 million outside North America (+8%), while the antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine) fell 37% to $106 million. The Premarin (conjugated oestrogens) range of hormone replacement therapies contributed $274 million to Pfizer’s coffers, an increase of 7%.

Pfizer's animal health division, 20% of which is to be spun off through an initial public offering, had sales of $1.09 billion, up 3%. The firm noted that it will make a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission by mid-August for the offering in the unit, which will be called Zoetis. The consumer healthcare division saw turnover rise 8% to $768 million.

Chief executive Ian Read said the results were impressive, "despite the $1.80 billion, or 11%, negative impact on revenues of product losses of exclusivity compared with the year-ago period, primarily Lipitor in most major markets". He noted that Pfizer's emerging markets unit grew 14%, "driven primarily by our targeted investments in China and Russia," adding that the firm is "well-positioned for long-term success given the potential of our innovative late-stage and emerging pipeline".

Likely delay for tofacitinib

Regarding that pipeline, Pfizer suffered a bit of a setback with the news that the US Food and Drug Administration has recently requested additional analysis of the existing data in the New Drug Application for its investigational rheumatoid arthritis treatment tofacitinib.

The company said it is planning to provide FDA with this information in early August but this means the agency will probably require additional time beyond the August 21 Prescription Drug User Fee Act date to review it; an FDA panel voted 8-2 in favour of the oral Janus kinase inhibitor in May.

Pfizer also published top-line data from a Phase III study showing that tofacitinib the drug was more effective than methotrexate in reducing signs and symptoms of RA.