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12 November, 2021 - 22:44 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca builds back bolder with new vaccines business

While analysts fixated on the figures, Cambridge’s A-list Big Biotech AstraZeneca unveiled a panoramic vision for global growth that will result in the creation of a new vaccine business, enhanced cash generation from selling its Covid-19 jabs to countries who can afford to pay and fresh initiatives to leverage a stunning portfolio.

Unveiling its year-to-date and Q3 2021 results, AstraZeneca revealed exceptional pipeline delivery and the huge potential triggered by the addition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals in the quarter.

Total revenue in the year to date, including Alexion from July 21, topped $254 billion, representing growth of 32 per cent. Total Q3 revenue rose by 50 per cent to $9.866bn.

Excluding the COVID-19 vaccine, revenue increased 21 per cent in the year to date to $23.187bn and by 34 per cent in the quarter to $8.816bn.

AstraZeneca delivered double-digit revenue growth from its Oncology, CVRM1 and R&I2 medicines in the last 12 months and established its Rare Disease capability with the acquisition of Alexion. Rare disease is a high-growth area with rapid innovation and significant unmet medical need.

Since June, AstraZeneca has made significant progress with its late-stage pipeline, reporting eight positive Phase III trial results and the approval of Saphnelo (anifrolumab) in the US for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus, and Ultomiris in the EU for children and adolescents with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria. 

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, said: “AstraZeneca’s scientific leadership continues to provide strong revenue growth and exceptional pipeline delivery, with eight positive late-stage readouts across seven medicines since June, including our long acting antibody combination showing promise in both prevention and treatment of COVID-19. 

“The addition of Alexion furthers our commitment to bring transformative therapies to patients around the world, and I am proud of our colleagues’ ongoing dedication and focus.

“Our broad portfolio of medicines and diversified geographic exposure provides a robust platform for long-term sustainable growth. Following accelerated investment in upcoming launches after positive data flow, we expect a solid finish to the year and our earnings guidance is unchanged.”

The company expects to progressively transition the Covid-19 vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received. 

COVID-19 vaccine sales in Q4 2021 are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders. The large majority stem from pandemic agreements. 

As the FT recently reported, AstraZeneca has already signed its first for-profit deals for its Covid-19 vaccine, moving away from the completely non-profit model deployed during the pandemic. The jab will remain non-profit for developing countries.

Soriot said the company had consulted with experts and concluded that Covid-19 was entering an “endemic phase” and that it would be the right time to switch contracts for many countries in the next year. AstraZeneca has, in fact, saved global governments billions with its altruistic model.

The new vaccine and immune therapies unit will leverage the power of the company’s Covid-19 products and synergistic treatments for viral respiratory illnesses.

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