May 5, 2021

Drug Companies Top Wall Street Expectations; Pfizer Raises Guidance Based On Massive Taxpayer-Funded Vaccine Profits

New first quarter earnings reports from Big Pharma giants Pfizer, AbbVie and AstraZeneca topped Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

Pfizer, in particular, smashed forecasts and raised its profit guidance for the year. The company’s big time earnings were driven, in large part, by big time revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine brought in a whopping $3.5 billion in the first quarter, leading the company to almost double its projected sales from the vaccine for the year, from an estimated $15 billion to nearly $26 billion.

And while Pfizer is already making hundreds of millions in profits from the vaccine that U.S. taxpayers are paying to acquire, the company is also pledging to hike prices on the vaccine as soon as the pandemic wanes.

All three Big Pharma companies have continued to engage in price hikes during the public health crisis.


  • Pfizer reported sales of $14.6 billion, beating Wall Street expectations.
  • The company’s COVID-19 vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in the quarter and is expected to bring in $26 billion for the year.
  • Strong first quarter sales were also driven by blockbuster breast cancer treatment Ibrance and rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz.
  • Sales of breakout drug Vyndaqel nearly doubled in the quarter – bringing in an additional $453 million for the company.
Brand name giants AbbVie and AstraZeneca also reported earnings that topped analysts’ expectations, driven by price hikes on blockbuster products and key segments like oncology.


  • AbbVie reported first-quarter profit and revenue that beat Wall Street expectations.
  • Overall sales surged 51 percent year over year, to over $13 billion.
  • Strong sales were driven by blockbuster drug Humira – still the world’s best-selling drug – which notched $4.87 billion in sales in Q1.
  • AstraZeneca topped Wall Street expectations for the quarter.
  • The company reported first quarter sales of $7.3 billion – up 15 percent.
  • Strong sales were driven by the company’s cancer portfolio, which saw a 20 percent increase year over year – raking in $3 billion.
The expectation-besting earnings reports from the three companies come against a backdrop of significant price hikes during the pandemic.


  • Pfizer has already hiked prices more than 130 times this year alone, including on its cancer treatment Ibrance and popular rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz – both by five percent.
  • Earlier this year, Pfizer’s CFO pledged to “get more on price” on the company’s COVID-19 vaccine after the “pandemic pricing environment.”
  • He followed this up by again signaling to investors that the company plans to hike prices on their vaccine, saying it sees “a significant opportunity…from a pricing perspective.”
  • Breakout drug Vyndaqel is estimated to “become among the most costly cardiovascular treatments ever,” according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER).
  • Price hikes on Pfizer’s drug Lyrica were not supported by new clinical evidence and accounted for an unnecessary increase in U.S. drug spending of nearly $700 million from 2017-2018 according to ICER.
  • To kick off the New Year, AbbVie hiked prices on its blockbuster drug Humira, as well as on its autoimmune medicines Skyrizi and Rinvoq and cancer treatment Imbruvica – all by 7.4 percent.
  • Price hikes on AbbVie’s Humira were not supported by new clinical evidence and accounted for an unnecessary increase in U.S. drug spending of more than $1.8 billion from 2017-2018 according to ICER.
  • Humira’s price has almost doubled since 2012, from about $19,000 to $38,000. AbbVie currently holds over 130 patents on Humira in the United States, blocking competition for up to 39 years.
  • The brand name drug maker has already hiked prices on at least 17 medications to start the year.
  • AstraZeneca was one of several companies to participate in Big Pharma’s biennial price hikes this past summer – despite the unprecedented economic uncertainty facing millions of Americans grappling with the pandemic – by increasing prices on 18 drugs, including on popular cholesterol drug Crestor and blockbuster drug Symbicort.

Read more on Q1 earnings from Johnson & Johnson HERE.

Read more on Q1 earnings from Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Roche HERE.

Read more on Q1 earnings from Sanofi, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen and GlaxoSmithKline HERE.