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Pfizer's Oncology Unit Posts Flat Sales Growth in Q3 as Blockbuster Ibrance Sees Decline


NEW YORK – Pfizer on Tuesday reported flat sales growth for its oncology business as its overall revenues dropped 6 percent year over year.

The New York-based company reported $3.07 billion in oncology sales in Q3 compared to $3.09 billion in Q3 2021. Overall, Pfizer reported $22.64 billion in Q3 revenues, down from Q3 2021 revenues of $24.04 billion. Pfizer executives attributed the decline to a difficult comparison to strong revenues in Q3 2021.

Pfizer posted net income of $8.61 billion, or $1.51 per share, versus $8.15 billion, or $1.42 per share, for Q3 2021. Its Q3 2022 adjusted EPS was $1.78.

Pfizer's highest grossing oncology product, CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance (palbociclib), saw a 7 percent decrease in global revenues in Q3 compared to Q3 2021, falling from $1.38 billion to $1.28 billion. The decline was largely driven by lower revenue in international markets, where the drug saw sales fall by 17 percent year over year. Sales of Ibrance in the US also fell by 1 percent from $883 million in Q3 2021 to $872 million in Q3 2022.

As Ibrance revenues dropped, Pfizer is exploring second-generation CDK inhibitors and other breast cancer treatments to maintain its leadership in this area. One such drug that began a Phase I trial in Q3 is ARV-471, an estrogen receptor (ER) PROTAC degrader. In that trial, Pfizer is evaluating ARV-471 plus everolimus in advanced or metastatic ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's CSO, said on a call to discuss the financial results that the firm hopes to advance the ARV-471 combination to pivotal studies "in the relatively near future." Last week, AstraZeneca reported positive data from a Phase II trial of its ER degrader camizestrant in the same setting.

"The two factors that will separate out the good drugs from the less good in this class of [ER] degraders, and we think the PROTAC, which is the mechanistic name of ARV-471, is more effective in down-regulating the estrogen receptor [than competitors]," Dolsten said, "[also], selecting the right patients compared to standard of care, including patients that have estrogen receptor mutations and need more powerful drugs. We look forward to advancing that drug with everolimus to pivotal studies in the relatively near future and also to soon reveal to you the progress we have made in our breast cancer franchise including the CDK 4 drug."

The firm's newer precision oncology products continued to see growth. It's second-generation ALK inhibitor for non-small cell lung cancer, Lorbrena (lorlatinib), brought in revenue of $99 million in global sales compared to $67 million in the prior year, a 48 percent increase. In the US market, Lorbrena saw sales growth of 37 percent, while international markets had a 60 percent increase in sales.

Pfizer's first-generation ALK inhibitor Xalkori (crizotinib) for NSCLC had a revenue increase of 1 percent globally to $118 million from $116 million in Q3 2021. That growth was driven by a 19 percent increase in revenue in the US.

Pfizer's combination BRAF inhibitor Braftovi (encorafenib) and MEK inhibitor Mektovi (binimetinib) treatment for BRAF-mutant melanoma also saw revenue growth in Q3. Global sales of Braftovi increased 22 percent from $47 million to $58 million. Braftovi combined with Eli Lilly's Erbitux (cetuximab) is also approved for BRAF-mutated colorectal cancer. Mektovi had a 10 percent revenue increase from $41 million to $45 million.

Dolsten also discussed the firm's progress on treatments for prostate cancer with PARP inhibitor Talzenna (talazoparib) and androgen receptor inhibitor Xtandi (enzalutamide). Dolsten said two Phase III trials in prostate cancer are expected to report data in the next couple years. Data from the Phase III EMBARK study exploring Xtandi plus hormone therapy in nonmetastatic castration sensitive prostate cancer is expected in 2023. The Phase III TALAPRO-3 trial, studying Talzenna plus Xtandi in patients with DDR-mutant metastatic castration sensitive prostate cancer is expected to read out data in 2024.

"These trials may indicate benefit in up to 20 percent more patients than are currently treated and potentially prolong the duration of use [for these drugs], subject to clinical success and regulatory approval," Dolsten said.

He also said results from the Phase III TALAPRO-2 study of Talzenna-Xtandi in castration-resistant prostate cancer showed benefit regardless of homologous recombination repair status. Based on the positive data from the combination so far, plus the upcoming data readouts, Dolsten said Talzenna in prostate cancer "may have blockbuster potential, subject to regulatory approval."