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BioNTech reduces drug development spend as COVID vaccine sales plunge

BioNTech reduces drug development spend as COVID vaccine sales plungea

By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Germany’s BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner on COVID-19 vaccines, cut its drug development budget for this year after quarterly revenues were hurt by a plunge in pandemic-related demand.

Second-quarter revenue dropped to 167.7 million euros ($184 million) from 3.2 billion euros a year earlier, as write-offs on Pfizer’s assets ate into profit share payments that BioNTech is entitled to receive from its U.S. partner.

The quarterly net loss was 190 million euros, down from a COVID-19-fuelled profit of 1.67 billion euros a year earlier.

“With some uncertainty on the revenue line, we are also carefully watching our spending by revisiting our cost base,” said finance chief Jens Holstein, adding that BioNTech’s ambition to become a multi-product oncology and infectious disease company was unchanged.

The company said it cut its projected research and development (R&D) budget for this year to between 2 and 2.2 billion euros, down from between 2.4 and 2.6 billion euros previously forecast.

R&D expenditures were 1.54 billion euros last year.

In a bid to broaden its work on cancer treatments and vaccines against infections such as tuberculosis and shingles, the company has hired scientists, initiated more expensive late-stage trials and pursued a string of alliance deals.

BioNTech reaffirmed its outlook for COVID-19 vaccine revenues to reach about 5 billion euros in 2023, down from 17.2 billion euros last year, expecting a renewed sales boost from an inoculation campaign in the fall.

It said it plans to start deliveries of updated shots targeting the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant with partner Pfizer from September, provided they win regulatory approval.

($1 = 0.9115 euros)

(Reporting by Ludwig BurgerEditing by Miranda Murray, Friederike Heine and Louise Heavens)


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