Washington: Pfizer Inc.’s long dependence on the cholesterol pill Lipitor to produce nearly one-fifth of the company’s revenue begins eroding later on Wednesday when the drug’s patent protection ends in the US.

By Bloomberg

“We’re not going to be a one-product company," said Geno Germano, Pfizer’s president of specialty care and oncology, interviewed at the company’s New York headquarters. “We’re poised to deliver significant new pipeline assets in the coming year, and in coming years."

Pfizer rose 2.5% to $19.88 at 9.51am New York time, and has gained 14% this year.

“The drug maker is depending on four products to generate $4 billion in new revenue by 2014," said Timothy Anderson, a Sanford C. Bernstein analyst in New York, in a note to clients.

The drugs are Prevnar, a bacterial infection vaccine gained in Pfizer’s 2009 Wyeth purchase; the blood-thinner Eliquis, co-developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; the rheumatoid arthritis drug tofacitinib; and the cancer drug Xalkori for non-small-cell lung tumors. Pfizer is awaiting US regulatory approval on Eliquis and tofacitinib.

“While it’s too early to tell whether those products will reach their potential, they offer positive data points that should enhance confidence that this company might, just might, be turning a corner," said Jami Rubin, an analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York, in a telephone interview.

It’s a significant corner. Lipitor, the world’s top-selling medicine, last year had $10.7 billion in sales, a figure analysts have said may drop as much as 70% by 2012.

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., which has an agreement with Pfizer to produce authorized copies of Lipitor, began shipping the pills to pharmacies on Wednesday, the company said in a statement.

Chief executive officer Ian Read is planning to sell or spin off Pfizer’s animal health and nutritional businesses. Those units generated $5.44 billion in 2010 sales, or about 8% of revenue, all of which will vanish when they’re divested.

It remains an open question whether Pfizer will turn to a major acquisition if its current plans don’t pan out.