pfizersmall.jpgPfizer just pulled their Exubera (inhaled insulin) from market. A horrible way to end a horrible year for them.

Pfizer’s decision to pull Exubera was purely a financial one. Thus far this year, the company has sold less than $15 million worth of Exubera. This accounts for less than 0.3% of the insulin market. A blockbuster drug is defined as one that has sales over $1 billion annually. Exubera is far from that mark and the pull from market will result in a loss of $2.8 billion for Pfizer.

It may be best that Exubera was pulled. Exubera uses insulin supplied in blister packs. To release the insulin, each individual blister pack is put inside the inhaler and then the patient would depress a button to release the insulin. This is where the confusion begins. If a patient uses three 1mg blister packs, it does not equate to using one 3mg blister pack. Due to the pharmacodynamic properties of the medication, 1+1+1 does not equal 3 in Exubera’s case. Pfizer’s new math creates confusion that may have caused some healthcare professionals to be hesitant in prescribing it.

Exubera’s woes are not the only blow to Pfizer this year. Zoloft (anti-depressant) became available as a generic in June 2006 and Norvasc (anti-hypertensive) became available as a generic in March 2007. Take a look at Pfizer’s third-quarter earnings compared to other Pharma companies:

3Q Revenues : $12.0 billion (-2%)
3Q Earnings : $761 million (-77%)
YTD Earnings : $5.3 billion (-45%)

Bristol-Myers Squibb
3Q Revenues : +22%
3Q Earnings : +154%
YTD Earnings : +35%

3Q Revenues : +12%
3Q Earnings : +62%
YTD Earnings : +24%

3Q Revenues : +5%
3Q Earnings : +2%
YTD Earnings : +8%

3Q Revenues : +22%
3Q Earnings : +33%
YTD Earnings : +41%

3Q Revenues : +9%
3Q Earnings : +267%
YTD Earnings : +100%

What Pharma slump? It seems that Pfizer is amongst the only one of their friends who are loosing money this year. Is this the beginning of the end for this noble giant awaiting to be a meal for one of its comrades? No. Pfizer earned the most money last year and despite their woes, Pfizer is still the number three player behind Novartis and J&J. Pfizer has A LOT of cash after it sold a few of its subsidiaries. It is evolving and restructuring.

Their future focus? Biopharmaceuticals and the Internet…(Health 2.0?) [Pfizer: Foratv, Pfizer: Sermo]