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26 April, 2019 - 10:28 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca cancer drug revenues rocket while China and Japan sales soar

Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca

Cambridge-based AstraZeneca has posted massive revenue increases in cancer drug sales and is set to cash in on soaring business in China and Japan.

The UK-anchored company demonstrated in its Q1 results that its focus on new medicines and emerging markets has transformed the business model for Big Pharma.

While some rivals continue to hang by their fingertips from a patent cliff, AstraZeneca continues its relentless climb to the peak of a medicinal Matterhorn. It has transformed with aplomb from Big Pharma to Big Biotech.

Results in the quarter were supported by product sales growth of 10 per cent to $5.465 billion – reflecting the sustained performance of new medicines (+77 per cent, +83 per cent at CER). 

Global cancer drug sales increased 59 per cent. Emerging markets sales were up 22 per cent; China sales increased by 28 per cent to $1.242bn with ex-China emerging markets also delivering strong growth at CER to $762m. Asia Pacific and Russia sales were also well ahead.

US sales increased 20 per cent and Japan sales 26 per cent to $501 million – all of which offset a 12 per cent fall in European sales. 

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, said: “Our 14 per cent product sales growth in the quarter reflected the success of our new medicines and emerging markets. 

“In oncology, Tagrisso, Imfinzi and Lynparza continued to do well and, in BioPharma, Farxiga, Brilinta and Fasenra also grew strongly. Emerging markets, our largest sales region, delivered an outstanding performance with a 22 per cent growth rate; all of its sub-regions grew strongly, including China at 28 per cent.

“Our core operating profit almost doubled, demonstrating strong operating-margin improvement. Together with this encouraging financial start to the year, our highly-productive and sustainable pipeline continued to deliver, notably with a regulatory approval for Lynparza in the EU for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and approvals of Farxiga in type-1 diabetes. 

“The recently-announced collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo also broadened an exciting oncology portfolio with a potentially-transformative cancer treatment that could benefit patients around the world. We appreciate the support from our shareholders in realising this exceptional opportunity.”

Sales of Lynparza – growing from Cambridge-born and bred iP – grew 105 per cent to $237m, driven by expanded use in the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer, including a particularly strong launch in the US as a first-line ovarian cancer treatment. It is forecast to be a blockbuster.

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