5 Fascinating Facts About Pfizer
Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, became a household name in 2020 when it was the first to have its COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the FDA.
The vaccine came under development in April 2020, when Pfizer announced its partnership with German biotechnology company BioNTech. BioNTech contributed mRNA vaccine candidates, while Pfizer led the charge with clinical research and development of the vaccine, as well as manufacturing and distribution.
On Dec. 11, 2020, the mRNA two-dose vaccine was officially cleared for use in the U.S.; and just a week later, Moderna’s vaccine was also cleared. Between these two vaccines and the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 107 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, reaching 21% of the American population, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Here’s a closer look at Pfizer, and what made it a leader in the COVID-19 vaccine race.
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1. Pfizer Found Success During World War II
Founded in 1849 by German emigrants Charles Pfizer and Charles F. Erhart, the company was started in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, and remains headquartered in the same city today. The company found its first major success in producing penicillin when the drug suffered a shortage during World War II.
Pfizer continued its expansion, and in 1980 began selling an anti-inflammatory drug called Feldene — its first product to reach $1 billion in sales. Before 2000, the company grew by marketing drugs such as Zoloft, Lipitor, Norvasc and Viagra, and has since reached unprecedented levels of success through multiple acquisitions and a consumer healthcare division.
2. High Market Cap, Low Share Value
Although Pfizer is clearly worth a lot of money — $196.6 billion, to be exact — the value of its stock hasn’t increased much in the past year. At close on March 1, 2020, one share of Pfizer was worth $30.97. In recent months, it’s hovered around $35, without much change.
Still, there are plenty of experts urging investors to stake their claim in Pfizer. The company has sustained setbacks both with its legacy drugs and with recent clinical studies on a breast cancer drug, but the success of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to propel the stock higher.
3. Pfizer Revenue Increased 2% in 2020
Despite producing a successful COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer made $41.9 billion in 2020; an increase of only 2% from its 2019 revenue. But there are good reasons for this. The foremost being much higher operations costs, as well as an unfavorable foreign exchange rate. And the company didn’t even begin vaccine distribution until FDA approval on Dec. 11.
4. The Company Is Expected To Rake In the Dough This Year, Though
Although 2020 was the setup, 2021 is a year to reap the benefits. An analysis by Quartz puts Pfizer’s vaccine profits this year at $15 billion, whereas Morgan Stanley anticipates $19 billion in profits. Even with some of those profits going to partner BioNTech, it’s a massive step forward for the already lucrative drug company.
Plus, another $9.3 billion is expected to be made in 2022 and 2023 vaccine sales, as the world continues to get vaccinated (and stay that way).
5. Vaccine Prices Could Be Increasing
Pfizer’s current deal with the U.S. government is for 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — enough to vaccinate 100 million people at no cost to them. Combined with the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, everyone in the U.S. should be able to receive the vaccine for free, should they want to.
Moving forward, however, Pfizer has announced that there is a “significant opportunity” to ramp up the prices of the vaccine.
Frank D’Amelio, Pfizer’s CFO, claims that once the pandemic shifts into an “endemic” state — essentially, when most places are vaccinated, restricting COVID-19 cases to certain pockets of the world — it will create an opportunity for Pfizer to increase the pricing of its vaccine. This will likely make it harder for low-resource communities to get vaccinated.
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