- Pfizer chief Ian Read, speaking on an earnings call Tuesday morning, said changing U.S. corporate tax laws and reducing regulations could help lower drug prices by boosting competition and speeding drugs to market faster.
- Read expressed some optimism that the new administration, despite President Trump's recent critical comments on pricing, could be positive for the industry if the focus remains on tax reform and easing regulatory burdens.
- Pfizer's earnings call took place as other top pharmaceutical executives sat down with President Trump to discuss the industry, pricing and the drug approval process. Pharma stocks generally moved positive following the meeting, perhaps buoyed by the lack of harsh criticism from Trump.
Pressed by analysts on the industry response to pricing pushback, Read said Pfizer was not changing its philosophy on how it prices its medications and when it takes those price increases.
Read sidestepped commenting directly on Trump's previous attacks on the industry, indicating the President's desire to bring manufacturing back to America was consistent with a desire to get tax reform done.
"I think to the extent that [the administration] can remove regulations and make it easier and faster to bring drugs to market, that will make the marketplace a lot more competitive, which will then in turn help to bring down drug prices," Read said.
On that front,Trump signed an executive order this week which requires the elimination of two old regulations for any new regulation added.
Trump's meeting with pharmaceutical executives, which Read did not attend in order to participate in the earnings conference call, overshadowed quarterly results which largely met consensus expectations.
Total revenues came in at $13.63 billion, down 1% from a year ago after accounting for foreign exchange fluctuations.
Strong revenue growth from Pfizer's breast cancer drug Ibrance (palbociclib) combined with higher-than-expected sales of Xeljanz (tofacitinib) helped to offset sharply lower sales of Pfizer's top-selling pneneumococcal vaccine Prevnar.
Pfizer said approximately 50% of the 65 and older patient population targeted for Prevnar had already been vaccinated, shrinking the remaining commercial opportunities moving forward. That reduced market opportunity, coupled with unfavorable timing of government bulk purchases, led to a 23% operational decline in fourth quarter sales compared to the year-prior.
Prevnar was Pfizer's top-selling drug franchise last year, earning just over $5.7 billion.
The pharma giant forecast 2017 sales of between $52 billion and $54 billion, a range slightly above 2016 levels. Generic competition will hurt some product franchises, amounting to a $2.4 billion headwind.
But Pfizer is looking for growing sales from its recently acquired prostate cancer drug Xtandi (enzalutamide), along with increasing revenues from its developing biosimilars business. An approval for the eczema drug Eucrisa (crisaborole) — expected in early February — could also help.