Pfizer tallied a 29% profit margin in Q2. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Drug sales at Pfizer dipped 11% in the second quarter, totaling $11.8 billion, but the pharmaceutical giant still reported more than $3.4 billion in net profits, or $0.78 in adjusted earnings per share — 15% above what Wall Street expected.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic only had a marginal effect on Pfizer, as the declining revenue was mostly due to lower sales from drugs that lost their patent protection. The focus is now on Pfizer's and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine candidate, which started its late-stage clinical trial this week.

Between the lines: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC the company hopes to get federal "emergency use authorization" for the vaccine as soon as October.

  • That authorization is not the same thing as full FDA approval, and instead would allow the vaccine to be used mostly in high-risk occupations and settings.
  • All of this also assumes the vaccine proves to be safe and effective. Early data indicate there's some hope the vaccine works, but it's unclear how long immunity would last.

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