Belfast Telegraph

AstraZeneca sales hit by competition from rival cholesterol drugs

Drug giant AstraZeneca said the launch of cheaper rival cholesterol treatments had put sales under pressure in the third quarter.

The Anglo-Swedish firm said total revenues dropped 4% to 5.7 billion US dollars (£4.6 billion) in the three months to September 30, as its top-selling drug took a hit from the launch of a number of Crestor generic medicines.

Pre-tax profits slipped 27% to 676 million US dollars (£544 million) over the period, as sales of Crestor and Nexium dropped by 82% and 50% respectively.

Shares in AstraZeneca were down 1%, bucking the wider rise from London-listed drug makers benefiting from a Donald Trump victory in the US presidential election.

Shire and Glaxosmithkline were up 5% and 0.3% respectively amid fears that a Hillary Clinton triumph would have unleashed a crackdown on the pharmaceutical industry in a bid to tackle drug price gouging.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said: "The performance in the third quarter was in line with our expectations, reflecting the transitional impact from the first full quarter of generic competition to Crestor in the US.

"We are entering an intensive period of news flow over the next twelve months, in particular revealing the potential of our Immuno-Oncology and targeted medicines.

"Our focus on scientific excellence keeps us on track with our goals, as we approach an inflection point of a pipeline designed to transform our company and the lives of patients."

The firm announced in August that it had signed a 1.6 billion US dollar (£1.2 billion) deal to sell part of its antibiotics business to fellow pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer.

The Viagra maker was set to pay 550 million US dollars (£379 million) to AstraZeneca up-front and another 175 million US dollars (£130 million) in January 2019. The remaining amount will be paid out as manufacturing and sales develop.

Liberum analyst Roger Franklin said it was an "uneventful set of results" from the AstraZeneca.