Pfizer did not profit $37 billion in most recent quarter
CLAIM: Pfizer wants to thank taxpayers, lobbyists and politicians for a record $37 billion in profit last quarter.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Financial information is not yet available for the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, but the pharmaceutical’s most recent financial report shows it made a net income, or profit, of $8.15 billion in the third quarter. This post is not a genuine message from Pfizer.
THE FACTS: A post shared widely on Facebook and Twitter this week criticized Pfizer for profiting on the backs of taxpayers with help from lobbyists and politicians, but it drastically exaggerated the amount of money the company has made.
“Pfizer wants to thank all the taxpayers for a record $37 billion profit last quarter,” read the post, which used the company’s logo. “Special thanks goes out to the 800 lobbyists and all the bought and paid for politicians. Couldn’t have done it without your great cooperation.”
When Pfizer released its third-quarter results in November, it projected about $36 billion in total 2021 revenue for its COVID-19 vaccine, marketed as Comirnaty. But revenue is not the same as profit, which indicates how much the company makes after expenses.
Pfizer has seen a significant jump in sales and profits since releasing its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration fully approved for patients 16 and older in August. It reported $4.88 billion in profit in the first quarter of 2021, $5.56 billion in the second and $8.15 billion in the third. But the drugmaker in the third quarter of 2021 still made less than 25% of the $37 billion the post claimed.
A financial report available on Pfizer’s website shows the company brought in $24.09 billion in total global revenues in its third quarter of 2021, $13 billion of which was generated by its COVID-19 vaccine. But those revenues didn’t take into account the company’s costs. With those factored in, the company’s third-quarter net income, or profit, was $8.15 billion.
The company will announce its fourth-quarter financial results in February, according to its website.
In an email to The Associated Press, a Pfizer spokesperson confirmed the company’s publicly available financial information and did not comment further.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.