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AZ says cancer will be ‘sixth growth platform’

Firm currently has 14 drugs in phase III trials

AstraZeneca AZ headquarters London UK 

With a renewed takeover attempt by Pfizer looking increasingly unlikely, AstraZeneca (AZ) is trumpeting its independent future in documents released today ahead of an investors meeting.

Central to its optimism is a growing pipeline in cancer, and specifically immuno-oncology, which is now emerging as a "sixth growth platform" to sit alongside respiratory medicine, diabetes, the revitalised antithrombotic Brilinta (ticagrelor), Japan and emerging markets.

Oncology is expected to account for around a quarter of AZ's predicted $45bn in annual revenues by 2023, driven by the immuno-oncology portfolio that includes 13 combination trials already underway and 16 at the planning stages.

The company has also brought forward its anticipated filing date for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) candidate AZD9291, an orally-active epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor, to the second quarter of 2015.

AZ said in May - at the height of its defense against Pfizer's £69bn ($120bn) takeover bid - that AZD9291 could be a $3bn-a-year product at peak.

After a couple of years of investing heavily in licensing and partnering to bolster what had previously been considered a somewhat sparse pipeline, the company now has 14 drugs in phase III trials or at the registration stage, which could generate 8-10 new approvals in 2015-2016.

In addition to its six growth platforms, the company is also building a presence in neuroscience and infection through partnerships and licensing, according to AZ.

"We have more than doubled the number of potential medicines in our late-stage pipeline since 2012 and we are on track to return to growth by 2017," said chief executive Pascal Soriot in the trading update, which indicated the transformation in R&D has taken place faster than expected.

"We are building a sustainable, more durable and profitable company," he added. "The tangible results being delivered reinforce our confidence that we will achieve our target of delivering revenues of over $45bn by 2023."

The update comes just over week before the moratorium on a second Pfizer bid for AZ comes to a close, although changes to US taxation regulations in recent weeks designed to minimise the benefits of tax inversion deals have led to suggestions Pfizer will look elsewhere for a merger or engage in smaller-scale deals such as its $2.8bn immuno-oncology alliance with Merck KGaA.  

Article by
Phil Taylor

18th November 2014

From: Research, Sales

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