Nov 9, 2021

New Round of Q3 Earnings Reports Continue to Show Big Pharma Profits Buoyed By Pandemic Price Hikes

Another round of third quarter earnings reports from Big Pharma giants Sanofi, AbbVie, Pfizer and Amgen demonstrate that the pharmaceutical industry continues to ride high on big profits. All four brand name drug makers topped Wall Street expectations this past week after hiking prices on products in their portfolios during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Sanofi topped Wall Street expectations this quarter after pulling in $12.1 billion in sales.
  • Sanofi’s oncology division posted particularly strong sales – increasing 19 percent year over year.
  • Sales of Sanofi’s blockbuster eczema drug Dupixent increased 54.6 percent in the quarter – notching nearly $1.6 billion in sales.
  • The company third quarter performance was so strong, in fact, that it raised its profit forecast for the year.
  • AbbVie reported Q3 earnings that bested Wall Street expectations.
  • Earnings advanced nearly 18 percent and sales rose 11 percent year over year.
  • Strong sales were driven by blockbuster drug Humira – still the world’s best-selling drug – which notched $5.43 billion in sales in the third quarter.
  • The company raised its dividend on the strong third-quarter performance.
  • Pfizer once again smashed Wall Street expectations, reporting sales of $19 billion for the second quarter.
  • The company’s earnings and sales more than doubled in Q3.
  • The company’s COVID-19 vaccine brought in a massive $13 billion in revenue in the quarter – and Pfizer now expects its vaccine to bring in $36 billion for the year – nearly it’s entire revenues for 2020.
  • Sales of Pfizer’s blood thinner treatment Ibrance rose 19 percent to $1.35 billion – after the company hiked the price of the drug by five percent in January of this year.
  • Amgen reported earnings and revenues that topped Wall Street forecasts.
  • The company reported revenue of $6.7 billion – up 4 percent year over year and 14 percent over last quarter.
  • Sales of blockbuster plaque psoriasis treatment Otezla increased 13 percent year over year – bringing in $609 million.
  • Amgen’s cholesterol drug Repatha also brought in $272million for the quarter – an eye-popping 33 percent increase year over year.
The strong earnings calls come after all four drug makers levelled significant price hikes during the pandemic – and all four share a history of engaging in anti-competitive tactics to the detriment of patients:


  • Sanofi was among Big Pharma companies to raise prices this July.
  • The company kicked off the New Year by raising prices on at least 40 medications.
  • Sanofi chose to hike prices on key medications in its portfolio last summer despite the unprecedented economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Last spring, Sanofi was caught exploiting charities to boost the company’s bottom line at the expense of taxpayers. In a settlement, Sanofi was ordered to pay the U.S. government nearly $12 million after the company “used a charity that helps cover Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs as a means to pay them kickbacks to use a high-priced multiple sclerosis drug,” Reuters reports.
  • 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.
  • Pfizer has already hiked drug prices more than 130 times this year alone – in two different batches in January and July.
  • Recently, Pfizer increased the price of two of its best-selling drugs, cancer treatment Ibrance and rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz – both by five percent.
  • Pfizer executives have repeatedly pledged to hike prices on the company’s COVID-19 vaccine when the pandemic wanes.
  • 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.
  • So far this year, Amgen has hiked prices 26 times – including on popular drugs Enbrel and Otezla – by an average of more than seven percent.
  • A recent House Committee on Oversight report found that Amgen hiked prices of blockbuster drugs Enbrel and Sensipar in order to meet revenue targets.
  • Price hikes on the company’s cancer drug Neulasta were not supported by new clinical evidence and accounted for an unnecessary increase in U.S. drug spending of nearly $500 million from 2017-2018 according to ICER.

Read more on Q3 earnings from Johnson & Johnson and Roche HERE.

Read more on Q3 earnings from Novartis, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb HERE.

Learn more about market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.