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AZ feels Crestor sting but new products provide some relief

Tagrisso and Lynparza boost sales while a string of new cancer studies are in the pipeline
AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca saw second quarter revenues and profits slide as competition to cholesterol drug Crestor took hold in the US.

The downturn was in line with expectations, however, and investors took solace from encouraging results for AZ's growth platforms, including new cancer drugs and resurgent antiplatelet drug Brilinta (ticagrelor).

Overall, revenues fell 10% to $5.6bn in the second quarter, with Crestor (rosuvastatin) slipping 29% to $926m following the launch of a generic in the US. Operating profit fell by a fifth to $1.4bn, with an inventory write-down for flu vaccine FluMist - recently turned down in the US - taking its toll.

There were gains across the board for AZ's growth platforms, with Brilinta up 51% to $214m in the quarter, AZ's diabetes franchise rising 13% to $645m and sales to emerging markets coming in at $1.45bn, an increase of 9%.

Respiratory drugs and sales in Japan rose by a smaller amount (1%) but stayed in positive territory, and new oncology drugs - including lung cancer drug Tagrisso (osimertinib) and Lynparza (olaparib) for ovarian cancer - added $152m to the pot.

AZ chief executive Pascal Soriot said that the company's financials are on track, adding that it is reconfirming its guidance for the full-year whilst conceding that the FluMist write-down will take it to the lower end of its forecast range.

"Our growth platforms continued to advance and made up 60% of total revenue [while] our transformed pipeline is advancing quickly and delivering a rich flow of differentiated medicines, boding well for our return to growth," he said.

In particular the company has high expectations for its immuno-oncology portfolio, and particularly the combination of PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab and anti-CTLA-4 antibody tremelimumab.

Soriot highlighted a string of new cancer studies in the coming couple of years - including HAWK, CONDOR and KESTREL in head and neck cancer and ARCTIC, MYSTIC, PACIFIC and NEPTUNE in lung cancer - that are proceeding at a fast pace.

"Enormous progress, very fast recruitment, and a tremendous opportunity for us to position ourselves as a leader in immuno-oncology in the years to come through this combination strategy," he added.

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st August 2016

From: Sales

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