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ASTRAZENECA GETS A SALES HEADACHE

Tuesday, 25th October

The new chief executive of AstraZeneca might need to up the dosage of his treatment plans for Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker, after it today posted a worse-than-expected 19% slump in third quarter sales.

Pre-tax profit in the quarter fell from $4.2 billion (£2.5 billion) a year ago to $2 billion. New boss Pascal Soriot, who immediately suspended AstraZeneca’s share buyback scheme on his first day in the job earlier this month, said the drugmaker’s chronic ailment — patents on several key medicines running out around the same time — was continuing.

This year antipsychotic medicine Seroquel faced generic competition, which saw Astra’s revenues in the world’s biggest drug market, the US, fall 19%. Overall its revenues in the third quarter fell to $6.7 billion, from $8.2 billion a year earlier.

Worse is to follow: the pharma giant’s blockbuster heartburn pill Nexium and cholesterol-buster Crestor come out of US patent protection in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Soriot said: “My priority is to restore the company to growth and scientific leadership,” but analysts predict acquisitions on the horizon, with pharma groups including Forest Laboratories and Dublin-based giant Shire tipped for potential Astra bids.

Note: No mention of the side effects of all three drugs and the cruel, misleading animal tests - we wonder why?

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