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2017 set to be a "defining year" for AZ

Potential immuno-oncology blockbuster durvalumab leads the charge for AZ’s new launches
AZ

With several new product launches due in 2017, AstraZeneca is hoping to draw a line under a tricky few years punctuated by the loss of patent protection for blockbuster brands.

The last AZ drug to fall over the 'patent cliff' - cholesterol-lowerer Crestor (rosuvastatin) - saw sales cut in half in the fourth quarter after the loss of US patent protection, with the brand down a third for the full-year to $3.4bn. That impacted AZ's top-line with group fourth-quarter revenues falling to $5.59bn from $6.4bn a year ago.

The decline was, however, offset by good growth for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) drug Tagrisso (osimertinib) which delivered sales of $423m in its first year on the market, and chief executive Pascal Soriot said the 2017 crop of new drugs - if approved - will mark a "turning point" for the firm.

"This year we have the opportunity to launch several life-changing medicines for cancer, respiratory and metabolic diseases," said Soriot.

The expected new arrivals are headed by AZ's immuno-oncology hope durvalumab - arriving a little late to the party but still with the potential for sales of almost $3bn by 2020, according to Credit Suisse analysts.

A regulatory decision on durvalumab in its first indication (bladder cancer) is due later this year, while AZ is also hoping for a positive verdict on new severe asthma therapy benralizumab and hyperkalaemia candidate sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (ZS-9), which was rejected by the FDA last year and re-filed.

Credit Suisse reckons Tagrisso could also become a blockbuster with $2bn in sales by 2020 assuming it can pick up new approvals in NSCLC, including a first-line indication that could come later in 2017. And two other new launches, Bevespi (glycopyrrolate and formoterol fumarate) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and combination diabetes therapy Qtern (saxagliptin and dapagliflozin), will also help drive the recovery, said Soriot.

"It is an exciting time as we rapidly approach the inflection point for our anticipated return to long-term growth," said Soriot.

Article by
Phil Taylor

2nd February 2017

From: Sales

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