As­traZeneca’s new drugs proof of strong fu­ture

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT INTERNATIONAL - Ben Hirschler

AS­TRAZENECA, de­ter­mined to show it has a strong in­de­pen­dent fu­ture after see­ing off a $118 bil­lion (R1.3 tril­lion) bid from Pfizer in May, said it had made good progress in de­vel­op­ing a pipe­line of new drugs.

Flag­ging an “in­dus­try-lead­ing” port­fo­lio of im­mune-boost­ing can­cer drugs, the company also brought for­ward the fil­ing date for a new lung can­cer pill and said it had the po­ten­tial to win be­tween eight and 10 new drug ap­provals in 2015-2016 across all dis­ease ar­eas.

It re­it­er­ated it was on course to re­turn to growth and that an­nual sales would rise by three quarters to ex­ceed $45bn by 2023, a fore­cast it first gave at the height of the Pfizer de­fence.

As­traZeneca ex­ec­u­tives pre­sented fur­ther de­tails at a six­hour in­vestor meet­ing yes­ter­day. The event comes eight days be­fore Bri­tish takeover rules al­low Pfizer to re­new its pur­suit, an op­tion some in­vestors now see as un­likely.

“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,” chief ex­ec­u­tive Pas­cal So­riot said. “We are build­ing a sus­tain­able, more durable and prof­itable company.”

Although it has more drugs com­ing through, it still faces ma­jor chal­lenges, with a raft of patent ex­piries over the next few years, and So­riot said he would con­tinue to seek part­ner­ships and bolt-on ac­qui­si­tions to build the business.

Most in­vestor in­ter­est is fo­cused on the group’s can­cer drug port­fo­lio, par­tic­u­larly in the hot area of im­muno-on­col­ogy, where it has 13 com­bi­na­tion tri­als un­der way and 16 planned. – Reuters

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

As­traZeneca chief ex­ec­u­tive Pas­cal So­riot.

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