Thursday 19 July 2018

AstraZeneca sales dip but new products to provide boost in 2018

The results come after the firm suffered a high-profile setback with a flagship immunology treatment.

Theresa May visit to China – Day One
Theresa May visit to China – Day One

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Sales at AstraZeneca dipped last year but the pharmaceutical giant pledged that rising income from new products will boost figures in 2018.

The drugs firm posted a 2% fall in revenue for 2017 to $22.46 billion (£15.79 billion) as product sales came in 5% lower at $20.15 billion (£14.17 billion).

It meant that chief executive Pascal Soriot has failed to meet his target of getting revenue growing again by 2017.

Nevertheless, Mr Soriot struck an upbeat tone, saying: “AstraZeneca’s revenues improved over the course of the year, a sign of how our company is steadily turning a corner.

“Strong commercial execution helped us bring our science to more patients, making the most of our exciting pipeline.

“We remain committed to our progressive dividend policy. Our strategy is working, propelled by a strong pipeline, good sales performance and continued cost discipline.”

Fourth quarter revenue came in 3% higher at $5.77 billion (£4.06 billion) and shares were trading flat at 4,870p.

The results come after AstraZeneca suffered a high-profile setback with a flagship immunology treatment in July last year, which sent shares tumbling.

The first round of the “Mystic trial” for lung cancer showed that a combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab does not improve survival rates any more than chemotherapy.

The treatment had been seen as a big potential money-spinner with the lucrative immuno-oncology drugs market continuing to grow at a fast pace.

For 2018, AstraZeneca is pencilling in a low single-digit percentage increase in product sales as it launches treatments for uncontrolled asthma and unresectable lung cancer.

Andy Smith, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said: “AstraZeneca’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results announcement was supposed to mark the years-end decline in revenue and sales that has marked it out from the rest of the large-cap global pharma group.

“AstraZeneca is still living down the over-promises needed to rebuff the $69.4 billion bid from Pfizer in 2014, and while the fundamentals of the company’s pipeline have stubbornly refused to live up to those lofty expectations, the market-cap has approached the value of the Pfizer bid thanks to broad stock markets trading at all-time highs.”

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