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Better times ahead, promises AZ as Crestor drop outweighs new drugs

Patent expiry fading says Soriot, as oncology prospects look good

Strong gains for new cancer drugs Lynparza and Tagrisso weren’t enough to offset a steep fall in sales for AstraZeneca’s cholesterol drug Crestor – pegging back sales and earnings in the first quarter.

Overall revenues fell 4% to $5.18bn and would have been down 9% without favourable exchange rates, while operating profit was cut in half, although AZ said it expected the product sales growth to pick up in the latter half of the year.

Crestor (rosuvastatin) continued its inexorable decline, down another 42% to $389m in the three-month period as generic competition continued to take its toll, particularly in the EU and Japan. There were solid gains for lung cancer therapy Tagrisso (osimertinib) and Lynparza (olaparib) for ovarian and latterly breast cancer – up 89% to $338m and 100% to $119m, respectively.

The recent US approval of Tagrisso as a first-line therapy for lung cancer is expected to lend additional momentum to the drug in the coming months, as will the maintenance indication approval and new tablet formulation of Lynparza.

Meanwhile, immuno-oncology drug Imfinzi (durvalumab) showed signs of acceleration with sales of $62m, a healthy advance on the $18m posted in the last three months of 2017 that has come in the wake of its approval in the US in February as a monotherapy maintenance therapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)  patients with inoperable stage III disease, although AZ has suffered some big setbacks trying to extend its user in other areas.

Among the company’s other growth products, antiplatelet drug Brilinta (ticagrelor) continued to perform as expected with a 24% sales increase to $293m. while new launches Fasenra (benralizumab) for severe asthma and lymphoma therapy Calquence (acalabrutinib) made their first contributions, brining in $21m and $8m, respectively.

Pascal Soriot

AZ chief executive Pascal Soriot (pictured) remains characteristically optimistic about the direction the company is going in, saying: “encouraging launches and strong performances from our newer generation of medicines made a significant contribution to product sales in the quarter, paving the way for our anticipated return to growth in 2018.”

That said, AZ is holding its annual general meeting later today, and the impact of the results announcement on its share price – down over 2.5% at the time of writing – suggests that management could be in for some close questioning from shareholders.

Article by
Phil Taylor

18th May 2018

From: Marketing

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