Based on better than expected sales of its experimental messenger RNA (mRNA) BNT162b2 COVID-19 biologic, New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Inc. last summer revised projected sales of its experimental drug, also known as “Comirnaty,” from $26 billion to $33.5 billion in 2021. Characterizing second-quarter sales of BNT162b2 as “remarkable,” Pfizer’s chief executive officer (CEO) Albert Bourla said that Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE had delivered more than a billion doses of BNT162b2 globally and described the “speed and efficiency” of how it was done as “unprecedented.”1
In November 2021, Pfizer announced that sales of BNT162b2 had reached $24.3 billion through the third quarter of the year and that it projected sales from the biologic to total $36 billion for the year. The company said that its vaccine business represented more than 60 percent of its overall sales revenue. 2 3
BNT162b2 Becoming a Top Seller for Pfizer
BNT162b2 has reportedly become one of the top-selling drugs of all time for Pfizer, which was formerly best known for Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate), a drug to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.3 4 5 According to Reuters:
Driven by an unprecedented vaccination drive against the COVID-19 pandemic globally, Pfizer’s shot has quickly become one of the best-selling products in the company’s roughly 172-year history.4
Pfizer reported that, based on contracts it had signed through mid-October for 1.7 billion doses of BNT162b2, it anticipated sales of $29 billion from the biologic in 2022, but noted, “We continue to engage with governments regarding potential additional orders for 2022.” In December, Pfizer upped its sales forecast for BNT162b2 in 2022 to $31 billion, based on contracts signed through mid-November for 1.9 billion doses.6 7
Actual sales revenue for BNT162b2 this year could far surpass both of those projections. Bourla said that he has sent letters to government of numerous countries encouraging them to place orders for doses of BNT162b2 and be more proactive. “Some governments are better than others,” Bourla said. “That’s the problem.”6
Jens Holstein, chief financial officer (CFO) for BioNTech, is anticipating orders for more doses soon. “We expect further contracts to be signed in the months to come and throughout the year. There is a high likelihood that to a certain extent there are additional vaccinations needed,” Holstein said.7
Strong Sales of BNT162b2 Projected Through 2027
Some financial services analysts believe that BNT162b2 will continue to earn billions of dollars for Pfizer throughout this decade. Louise Chen, who is managing director at New York investment banking firm Cantor Fitzgerald, LP, said last month she expects sales of BNT162b2 will reach $25 billion as far out as 2027.8 Chen added:
I see COVID continuing to have new variants and coming back each season. Much like the flu, Pfizer will eventually go into the private market, which will likely be lower-volume, but pricing will be higher.8
In a note to her clients, Chen wrote, “The data/updates continue to support a best-in-class profile as well as a mega-blockbuster opportunity for Pfizer’s COVID-19 franchise.”8
Health care financial analysts Damien Conover and Karen Andersen of financial services firm Morningstar, Inc. in Chicago believe that most of the sales of BNT162b2 will occur through 2023, with a “sharp decline” projected by 2024. But they think that continuing uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and the possible continual rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants may sustain demand Pfizer’s COVID biologic for years to come.9
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1 Parpia R. Pfizer Raises Sales Forecast for COVID-19 Biologic to $33.5 Billion in 2021. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 16, 2021.
2 Isidore C. Pfizer revenue and profits soar on its Covid vaccine business. CNN Nov. 2, 2021.
3 Freyman M. Most Important Company: Pfizer. Morning Brew Dec. 22, 2021.
4 Reuters. Pfizer raises Covid vaccine sales forecast to $36 billion for 2021. CNBC Nov. 2, 2021.
5 Wikipedia. Sildenafil.
6 Hopkins JS, Grossman M. Pfizer Raises Covid-19 Vaccine Forecast as Sales More Than Double. The Wall Street Journal Nov. 2, 2021.
7 Kresge N. BioNTech Says Covid Vaccine Revenue May Be Lower This Year. Bloomberg Jan. 11, 2022.
8 Dunleavy K. Pfizer’s peak COVID sales now pegged at $50B-plus, with vaccine still hauling in $25B by 2027: analysts. Fierce Pharma Dec. 16, 2021.
9 Conover D, Andersen K. Fair Value Increases for Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna. Morningstar Jan. 6, 2022.