- COVID-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna both named new CFOs on Monday, with Pfizer hiring a former Lowe's and CVS Health executive and Moderna tapping a one-time finance chief at Cardinal Health.
- David Denton will be the new CFO of Pfizer and take over for Frank D'Amelio, who is retiring after a 15-year stint on May 2. Moderna, meanwhile, will replace the retiring David Meline with Jorge Gomez on May 9.
- Both CFOs will be tasked with managing the revenue windfall each company is earning from their COVID-19 vaccines, which are among the best-selling pharmaceutical products in industry history. They'll have to decide how to best allocate those dollars to research and strategic activities, such as dealmaking.
Pfizer reported $37 billion in sales from its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty in 2021, and this year expects to see a combined $54 billion in sales from Comirnaty and its antiviral pill Paxlovid. Moderna, meanwhile, earned $19 billion in sales of its vaccine Spikevax in 2021 and has signed advance purchase agreements worth at least the same amount in 2022.
Questions about how to use that record revenue will confront both CFOs, and the two companies may take different approaches based on their respective positions.
Pfizer is facing patent expirations for some of its top-selling products, including the blood thinner Eliquis and the prostate cancer drug Xtandi. In total, the company believes around $17 billion of its yearly sales could soon be vulnerable to generic competition as products lose market exclusivity in 2026 and beyond.
Pfizer's success rate with experimental drugs has risen in recent years, and some of the treatments within its pipeline could help make up for some of those losses. But in the meantime, the cash that Pfizer has amassed leaves its incoming CFO with decisions to make in the near term. Investors will be eager to see whether those resources are put to use in the form of dividends and share buybacks or on deals to bring in new drugs.
Recent large acquisitions like Trillium Therapeutics and Arena Pharmaceuticals have signaled that Pfizer is ready to spring for more deals. Denton could help, as he was CVS' CFO during its $69 billion buyout of Aetna.
Moderna is in a much different position, having in two short years gone from an unproven company to one of the biggest vaccine makers in the world. The company even enticed Meline out of retirement to prepare and launch SpikeVax, as well as manage its transition to a commercial-stage company.
With that job finished, Meline is stepping away, and Moderna is trying to recreate its COVID-19 vaccine success elsewhere. The boost in revenue has helped Moderna push 44 programs into development, for instance. Still, as sales stabilize or even decline as the omicron surge eases, Moderna will need to carefully choose which experimental products it wants to back with additional research dollars.
Some key milestones are ahead, with experimental vaccines for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus each progressing through early human testing. However, Moderna also has cancer vaccines as well as drugs for heart disease and certain rare diseases in its pipeline, projects that will place demands on the company's research and development budget.