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Cancer ‘is our new Covid’ – Pfizer CEO

The US pharma giant seeks to regain profits through cancer treatment drugs since the demand for its Covid-19 vaccines has plummeted

The American drug manufacturer, Pfizer, views the cancer treatment market as a new Klondike now that the Covid-19 pandemic is over and the global demand for its vaccines and Covid drugs is falling, its CEO Albert Bourla told Fox Business on May 1. 

The company expects to score big on “blockbuster” cancer drugs, its head revealed, as the pharma giant was seeking to reverse its post-Covid business decline. The pandemic had brought record revenue to the company. In 2022 alone, Pfizer’s total sales amounted to $157 billion, with its Covid vaccine accounting for $37.8 billion and its antiviral treatment pill, Paxlovid, bringing it another $18.9 billion. 

In 2023, sales were down by more than a half and accounted for $71 billion. The company’s shares have also fallen by 42% since the end of 2022, amid the rapid decline in demand for its Covid-related products. The developments forced the drug behemoth to launch a major cost-cutting campaign, including hundreds of layoffs at its UK, US and Irish facilities. 

In his May 1 interview with Fox Business, Bourla praised the measures as a “very good cost containment” campaign, crediting it for the “very good results” his company showed in early 2024. Pfizer is also on the verge of striking gold again with its new strategy, he said. 

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“Oncology, it is our new Covid,” the Pfizer CEO said. “We did what we did with Covid. We are very proud to have saved the world but it is behind us now. We want to do [it] once more and I think oncology is our best chance to do it.”

In late 2023, the US drug manufacturer completed its $43 billion acquisition of Seagen (formerly, Seattle Genetics, Inc.) – a biotechnology company specializing in monoclonal antibody-based drugs also known as antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs. Those medicines are designed to kill tumor cells while leaving healthy tissues relatively unaffected. 

Seagen was previously known for its flagship product, Adcetris, which is used to treat lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to the drugs.com website, the medicine costs around $11.910 for a 50-mg dose. 

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Another drug in the company’s portfolio that demonstrated “phenomenal performance” in Pfizer’s hands was Padcev, according to Bourla. Padcev is used to treat bladder cancer, and its sales “had a growth of 164%” since the US pharma giant got its hands on the drug, its CEO said. An average price for Padcev accounts for $4,446 per 30 mg dose, according to drugs.com. 

“That demonstrates how well we’ve invested the money,” Bourla said, commenting on Padcev’s performance. He also promised “blockbuster” drugs in the future that “will have a significant impact on cancer patients.”

Pfizer announced its shift toward cancer treatment in late 2023. “Nothing scares people all over the world more than cancer, because it affects everyone,” Bourla said at that time. “I hope we will be successful in our mission. I am optimistic that in the next 10 years, we will see significant advancement,” he added.

In January 2024, the company said it plans to have at least eight “blockbuster” cancer treatment drugs by 2030 and double the number of patients treated with its innovative medicines, up from some 2.3 million in 2023.

May 06, 2024 at 03:42AM
RT

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