Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated
CEO Pascal Soriot stated that AstraZeneca's performance last year "marked a significant step forward for [the company]. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth to leverage improved profitability and cash generation." AstraZeneca noted that 52% of its total revenues in 2020 came from new medicines, up from 43% in 2019, with oncology posting growth of 23% to $11.5 billion for the year.
Soriot also highlighted additional investment in new medicines, bolstering growth in the oncology and biopharmaceuticals therapy areas. "Tagrisso's future was enhanced with its first regulatory approval in early, potentially-curable lung cancer and further national reimbursement in China in advanced disease," the CEO said, noting that "Farxiga again expanded its potential beyond diabetes, while tezepelumab promised real hope for patients suffering from severe asthma."
AstraZeneca said total revenues for the year also included $2 million in product sales from its COVID-19 vaccine AZD1222, adding that it intends to report the vaccine's sales performance separately starting the next quarter.
AstraZeneca said full-year sales in 2021 are expected to increase by a low-teens percentage, in constant currencies, accompanied by faster growth in core earnings ranging from $4.75 to $5 per share. The guidance does not take into account potential sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, and also excludes the pending $39-billion takeover of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which is expected to close in the third quarter.
Sebastian Skeet of Third Bridge remarked "the company is arguably the poster child for big pharma turnarounds, with CEO Pascal Soriot rebuilding the pipeline and establishing the necessary growth drivers."
AstraZeneca discontinued some oncology pipeline candidates since the last quarter, citing safety and efficacy reasons. Specifically, it is pulling the oral selective oestrogen receptor degrader AZD9496, which was being evaluated in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Further, the company has discontinued development of the A2aR inhibitor imaradenant, also known as AZD4635, alone and in combination with the anti-CD73 antibody oleclumab, as a potential treatment for patients with prostate cancer. However, Phase II testing of imaradenant in combination with Imfinzi plus chemotherapy for use in prostate cancer is ongoing. The company is also ending AZD5153, a BRD4 inhibitor with a bivalent mechanism of action that was in testing for solid tumours and haematological malignancies.
In addition, AstraZeneca disclosed that it has removed AZD5634, an inhaled ENaC inhibitor for cystic fibrosis, from its pipeline due to safety and efficacy reasons, while AZD6615, an orally administered small-molecule drug to treat dyslipidaemias, was dropped for strategic reasons. Further, the company scrapped development of both abediterol and velsecorat in asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, citing strategic reasons.
To read more Top Story articles, click here.