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AstraZeneca signs for-profit agreements for its COVID-19 vaccine

The for-profit deals are aimed to ‘progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability’ as COVID-19 moves from a pandemic to an endemic disease


Even though AstraZeneca (AZ) saw a 50% growth in the third quarter of this year with revenues of $9.86bn, it has announced that it has signed for-profit agreements for its COVID-19 vaccine, citing its shift from a pandemic to an endemic disease.

AZ’s Q3 revenues include $1.31bn from its rare disease drugs acquired with the purchase of Alexion in July 2021.

Total revenues in the first nine months of 2021 are $25.41bn, up by 32% on the same period last year, with revenues excluding its COVID-19 vaccine increasing by 21% to $23.18bn.

The company has not changed its guidance for the year, expecting revenue excluding the COVID-19 vaccine to grow by ‘a low-twenties percentage’ or slightly higher for total revenues including the vaccine.

“Our broad portfolio of medicines and diversified geographic exposure provides a robust platform for long-term sustainable growth,” said CEO, Pascal Soriot. “Following accelerated investment in upcoming launches after positive data flow, we expect a solid finish to the year.”

Soriot was keen to mention the “exceptional pipeline delivery” including the launch of Saphnelo (anifrolumab) in the US for systemic lupus erythematosus and Ultomiris (ravulizumab) in the EU for children/adolescents with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria, plus breakthrough therapy designation for Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) in breast cancer.

AZ has also announced positive results from eight phase 3 trials this quarter, with the ‘potential to change standard of care in several diseases’. The results include Lynparza in prostate cancer, Imfinzi plus tremelimumab in liver cancer and biliary tract cancer, PT027 in asthma, ALXN1840 in Wilson disease, and AZD7442 in COVID-19 prophylaxis and treatment.

However, the company’s announcement of its recent financials was overshadowed by the news that it will start to make a profit from its COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed with the University of Oxford.

The for-profit deals AZ has signed are aimed to ‘progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability’ as COVID-19 moves from a pandemic to an endemic disease.

Soriot stressed that this was always the company’s plan for the vaccine. “The virus is becoming endemic which means we have to learn to live with it,” he said, adding that “it's not something we see as a huge profit-earner”.

He said that while a normal profit margin in the drug industry might be around 20%, AstraZeneca charges cost price of about $5 per dose for the Covid vaccine and would not be making as much profit as that.

The vaccine will continue to be supplied on a not-for-profit basis to poorer countries.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

15th November 2021

From: Sales



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