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Pfizer Sales Shortfall Highlights Pressure to Make a Deal

  • Q2 revenue drops 2%, as vaccines, Viagra miss estimates
  • Bright spot: new drugs like cancer treatment Ibrance did well

Pfizer Inc.’s revenue shortfall last quarter may reignite pressure on the New York drugmaker to make deals to return to growth.

Sales declined 2 percent to $12.9 billion in the second quarter, Pfizer said Tuesday in a statement. Revenue, which missed the $13.1 billion average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg, has now fallen for three quarters in a row.

Investors are watching Pfizer’s next move after several quarters of lackluster results, dragged down by its top-selling Prevnar vaccination shots and products that are facing loss of exclusivity, like the erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra and pain medicine Lyrica. Newer drugs, including breast cancer treatment Ibrance, are doing well, and Pfizer has a solid pipeline of potential blockbusters -- but that won’t be enough to lift overall sales in the near future.

An acquisitive company several years ago, Pfizer walked away from a $160 billion mega-merger with Allergan Plc last year in the face of political backlash over deals that changed a company’s domicile for tax purposes. There has been pressure for Pfizer to make more deals since last year’s $14 billion acquisition of...