Pfizer has reported a 50% slump in net income for the fourth quarter to $1.44 billion, hurt by generic competition to the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor.

The drug giant's turnover came in at $16.75 billion, down 4%, while biopharmaceutical sales decreased 6% to $14.14 billion. Lipitor (atorvastatin) fell 24% to just under $2.00 billion, hit by competition from other statins and the loss of patent protection in the USA: sales there fell 42%.

The blood pressure treatment Norvasc (amlodipine) fell 6% to $364 million, while the COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) was up 7% to $667 million. The erectile dysfunction blockbuster Viagra (sildenafil) brought in $523 million, up 5%, though the glaucoma drug Xalatan (latanoprost) slumped 37% to $290 million.

Sales of Lyrica (pregabalin), for epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, increased 22% to $998 million, while the kidney cancer treatment Sutent (sunitinib) was up 7% to $317 million. However, the smoking cessation drug Chantix/Champix (varenicline) sank 25% to $175 million.

As for products Pfizer got hold of through its acquisition of Wyeth, sales of the pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar/Prevenar 13 inched up 1% to $834 mllion. The arthritis and psoriasis therapy Enbrel (etanercept) brought in $925 million outside North America (+7%), while the antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine) fell 32% to $141 million. Wyeth’s antibiotic Zosyn/Tazocin (piperacillin/tazobactam) brought in $146 million, down 28%, while the Premarin (conjugated oestrogens) range of hormone replacement therapies contributed $256 million to Pfizer’s coffers, a decrease of 2%.

Chief executive Ian Read said he was pleased with Pfizer's overall 2011 financial performance, "which was achieved in the face of a challenging global market and product losses of exclusivity of approximately $5 billion". He added that the year saw the firm "changing the culture within the R&D organisation to be more accountable and results-driven".

Mr Read went on to say that "with the steady cadence of new product launches, marketing submissions and approvals, and positive late-stage clinical data presentations, we are clearly seeing the benefits of our investments and new approach". He gave special mention to tofacitinib (in Phase III for rheumatoid arthritis), the lung cancer drug Xalkori (crizotinib), Inlyta (axitinib) which was approved this week for advanced kidney cancer and the anti-clotting drug Eliquis (apixaban), partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Pfizer's figures were bolstered by revenue from its animal health unit which grew 13% to $1.11 billion, and sales at its infant nutrition business, up 22% to $598 million.  The company has been looking to sell or spin off the latter two divisions and Mr Read limited himself to saying that the firm "remains on-track with our timeline of finalising strategic decisions" for them between July 2012 and July 2013".