Vaccine makers face a slump in sales as demand for Covid-19 vaccines falls

Manufacturers of some of the most lucrative pharmaceutical products ever made are facing a slump in sales as shipments of Covid-19 vaccines are set to almost halve next year, according to new forecasts.

Airfinity, a health data analytics group, said Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna had started raising vaccine prices but that would not fully offset the drop in demand for Covid vaccines in 2023. It forecasts a drop in sales of Covid-19 vaccines of around a fifth to $47 billion next year.

The average price per dose will rise to $37 next year, double the amount charged for Covid shots in 2021. However, in the US, which is shifting from government purchases to a private market and where Moderna said prices could be much higher, it could command as much as $100 per shot.

Airfinity expects to ship 1.6 billion doses of Covid vaccine next year, compared to 3 billion in 2022 and 5.7 billion in 2021.

Vaccine makers are expected to keep investors updated on Covid sales during next month’s third-quarter results, but analysts have started trimming sales forecasts, citing weaker-than-expected vaccine sales.

Deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines, prices per dose and revenue

Analysts at Oddo Bhf, a Frankfurt-based financial group, last month lowered BioNTech’s revenue forecasts for 2022 and 2023 by 28 percent and 33 percent, to €14.1 billion and €10.6 billion, respectively.

Jefferies told investors last week that Moderna’s vaccine sales would be $2.5 billion to $3 billion in the third quarter, below Wall Street consensus estimates of $4.4 billion.

SVB Securities said it expects Pfizer to generate $96.2 billion in revenue in 2022, compared to a previous forecast of $99.5 billion. It forecast sales of $78.4 billion in 2023 versus $82.1 billion.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are pouring resources into drug development in areas other than Covid in search of growth opportunities.

Pfizer intends to bring several potential blockbuster drugs to market, which will cost more than $1 billion annually over the next year. It has also acquired several biotech companies with late-stage drug candidates, including Biohaven Pharmaceuticals and Arena Pharmaceuticals.

“From a public health perspective, I think we’re doing important things and I think that will result in revenue and a return to Pfizer,” William Gruber, senior vice president of clinical research and development for Pfizer vaccines, told the Financial Times.

Moderna has a pipeline of more than 40 drug candidates but currently has no products on the market beyond its Covid shot. BioNTech is in a similar predicament, striving to develop cancer drugs using messenger RNA technology.

That hasn’t stopped a sell-off in shares of the three mRNA vaccine makers, however, with Moderna down 43 percent, BioNTech down 41.5 percent, and Pfizer down 24.3 percent year-to-date.

New entrants Novavax and Sanofi/GSK, the latter of which is aiming to have its Covid vaccine approved this year, will struggle to gain market share as Covid becomes endemic and public apathy towards vaccines increases.

The mRNA vaccines manufactured by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna are forecast to increase market share on a revenue basis from 87 percent this year to 94 percent in 2023.

Airfinity Analytics director Matt Linley said the mRNA jabs could charge more than competitors because they’ve performed so well and shown they can adapt quickly to develop jabs that target new variants.

Shares of Novavax, which halved its 2022 revenue guidance to between $2 billion and $2.3 billion in August, have fallen 86.2 percent this year. Vaccine makers face a slump in sales as demand for Covid-19 vaccines falls

Adam Bradshaw

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