The Daily Telegraph

Astrazenec­a to boost cancer drugs output

- By Hannah Boland

BRITISH pharma giant Astrazenec­a is planning to more than double its portfolio of new cancer drugs by the end of the decade amid concerns the “massive backlogs in the NHS” have delayed diagnosis for many.

Dave Fredrickso­n, Astrazenec­a executive vice-president of oncology, said the company had the potential to be “the No1 oncology player”, after developing seven new cancer medicines in the past eight years.

Around a third of the company’s revenues come from cancer drugs.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the FTSE 100 company, said last month his team had made “great progress in oncology”, with cancer a “very big issue and a really important topic” for the business.

Astrazenec­a played a key role in the developmen­t of Covid vaccines, with its jab among the most widely used in the world. Mr Soriot said things were now returning to “normalcy” after having to work “longer and harder” during the pandemic. Its cancer work is increasing­ly coming to the fore amid a growing need for treatments.

“With the effect of Covid-19, which has created massive backlogs in the NHS and a lot of delays in diagnosing

‘With the effect of Covid-19, which has created a lot of delays in diagnosing cancer cases, this is a big problem’

cancer cases, this is a big problem,” Mr Soriot said. Tackling cancer rates will require more than just new drug developmen­t, he said, starting with early diagnosis.

Figures released last week suggested death rates among men with prostate cancer tripled in the first year of the pandemic. Cases were spotted far later, according to NHS hospital data analysed by charity Prostate Cancer UK.

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