AstraZeneca ups annual forecast following Alexion purchase

Headline results for the second quarter:

  • Revenue: $8.2 billion (forecasts of $7.6 billion), up 31%
  • Profit: $550 million, down 25%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"AstraZeneca has delivered another period of strong growth thanks to robust performances across all regions and disease areas, particularly oncology, new CVRM [cardiovascular, renal and metabolic] and Fasenra in respiratory," remarked CEO Pascal Soriot.

The company said that its COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria generated sales of $1.2 billion in the first six months of the year, reflecting delivery of around 319 million doses. AstraZeneca also indicated that a US application for the vaccine, which was previously planned for the first half of the year, will now take place in the second half. "The FDA are requesting, an awful lot of information...and we're having to submit all of those data sets, clinical trial tables analyses, etc. to have that pre-BLA [biologics license application] meeting," explained Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D.

Other results:

  • Oncology product sales: $3.3 billion, up 26%
    • Tagrisso: $1.3 billion, up 26%
    • Imfinzi: $604 million, up 23%
    • Lynparza: $588 million, up 6%
    • Calquence: $280 million
    • Faslodex: $105 million, down 28%
  • Cardiovascular, renal and metabolic disease product sales: $2 billion, up 15%
    • Farxiga: $734 million, up 65%
    • Brilinta: $375 million, down 14%
    • Crestor: $265 million, down 6%
  • Respiratory and immunology product sales: $1.4 billion, up 27%
    • Symbicort: $680 million, up 4%
    • Fasenra: $320 million, up 41%
    • Pulmicort: $167 million, up 72%
  • COVID-19 vaccine sales: $894 million, up from $275 million in the first quarter
  • Emerging market sales: $5.5 billion, up 26%

Looking ahead:

Following the completed acquisition of Alexion, AstraZeneca expects revenue this year to increase by a low-twenties percentage, in constant currencies, accompanied by faster growth in core earnings per share to between $5.05 and $5.40. The drugmaker previously estimated that annual sales would increase by a low-teens percentage, with core earnings ranging from $4.75 to $5 per share.

Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca's biopharmaceuticals unit, suggested that the company is exploring options for its COVID-19 vaccine business, with greater clarity on the matter expected by the end of 2021. "We are exploring different options," Dobber said, adding "if you ask me, is the vaccine businesses a sustainable business for AstraZeneca for the next five or 10 years, that big strategic question is under discussion."

Dobber added that AstraZeneca also hopes to settle a legal dispute with the EU over COVID-19 vaccine deliveries. "We're hopeful in the next few weeks we will have a settlement," Dobber said, without giving further details. Last month, a Brussels-based court dismissed an EU request for more deliveries of Vaxzevria by the end of June, but determined that AstraZeneca failed to live up to commitments it had made in the contract.

Pipeline updates:

AstraZeneca disclosed that Phase II development of tezepelumab for the treatment of atopic dermatitis was terminated during the quarter for safety/efficacy reasons. The TSLP-targeting monoclonal antibody is being developed in partnership with Amgen.

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