Belfast Telegraph

AstraZeneca aims to cut costs as it turns attention to cancer treatments

Drugmaker AstraZeneca has said that it aims to slash costs to the tune of 1.1 billion dollars (£753 million) in order to devote more resources to cancer treatments.

The savings will be made over the next two years and chief executive Pascal Soriot said the company is "driving greater efficiency across the organisation to support the advancement of our strategy."

The announcement was made alongside first quarter results which saw earnings slump by 12%.

Core operating profit fell to 1.59 billion dollars (£1 billion) versus 1.81 billion dollars (£1.2 billion) in the first quarter of 2015.

Income increased to 646 million dollars (£442 million) from 550 million dollars (£376 million).

Like other big drugmakers, AstraZeneca is focusing on building a pipeline of new treatments as patents expire for blockbuster products.

Mr Soriot warned in February that sales this year will suffer "a single-digit percentage decline" as the patent on its anti-cholesterol drug Crestor comes to an end in the US.

The chief executive is set to face shareholders at the company's AGM later today amid growing shareholder unrest over pay.

Mr Soriot's pay package more than doubled to £8.4 million last year and experts predict that a significant number of shareholders will reject the company's remuneration report.