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Saturday 18

August, 2018 4:51 AM



Pfizer shares up on profits, optimism at Trump drug price plan

Pfizer shares up on profits, optimism at Trump drug price plan

Pfizer shares rose Tuesday after it reported higher second-quarter profits on lower US taxes and expressed confidence the Trump administration's drug price reform plans would not prevent company growth.

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01.08.2018 09:32 AM

Pfizer shares rose Tuesday after it reported higher second-quarter profits on lower US taxes and expressed confidence the Trump administration's drug price reform plans would not prevent company growth.

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read said he was "very supportive" of the drug pricing "blueprint" being developed by President Donald Trump's administration.

"I think the president is trying to maintain a market-based system in the United States, which is positive," Read said on a conference call with analysts.

The Trump "blueprint" under development seeks to weed out drug rebate system that has evolved in the much-criticized US health care system, whereby pharmaceutical companies offer rebates to pharmacy benefits managers such as Express Scrips and CVS Health in exchange for marketing their drugs.

Critics, including pharmaceutical companies, have argued the rebates are a key factor in swelling drug prices, while the pharmacy benefits companies and insurers have argued the rebates are a red herring in the higher prices.

Read praised the Trump administration's focus on rebates, saying they made the pricing system "opaque" to consumers and that the reform would "reduce pharmaceutical prices at the point-of-sale ... by removing the 40 percent subsidy (that) goes the rest of the healthcare system."

Read spoke with Trump after the president blasted the company on Twitter on July 9 for enacting midyear price increases on about 40 medicines. 

Two days later, Pfizer announced that it was deferring until the end of the year, or until Trump enacts a "blueprint" on drug prices.

Read said he did not know the timeframe for Trump to release the full plan but said his impression was there was "much urgency" at the White House on the issue.

The US pharmaceutical giant reported earnings of $3.9 billion, up 26 percent from the year-ago period. 

The tax rate fell to 14.3 percent from 19.4 percent last year following US tax reform, boosting results.

Revenues climbed four percent to $13.5 billion.

Pfizer cited solid growth in a number of products, including blood thinner Eliquis, breast cancer medication Ibrance, and Xeljanz, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and some other ailments.

These gains helped offset lower sales in some drugs that have lost their patents, notably erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

Pfizer said it was lifting its budget for research and development for the second half of the year due to more spending on late-stage development.

The company also trimmed its 2018 revenue forecast range by $500 million to $53-$55 million due to the rising value of the dollar.

Shares rose 2.8 percent to $39.66 in afternoon trading.
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