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29 July, 2019 - 17:59 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca forecasts five new blockbuster medicines this year

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot expects five new medicines from the Cambridge UK ‘Big Biotech’ business to be blockbusters this year – drugs that achieve at least $1 billion annual sales.

He revealed product pipeline and global territorial growth along with first-half results showing £11.314bn total revenue – nine per cent up year-on-year and reported operating profit of $1.590bn, also nine per cent ahead.

Soriot said: “The momentum generated last year continued into the first half, consolidating AstraZeneca’s return to growth based on the strength of our new medicines. 

“Five of these new medicines are anticipated to be blockbusters this year, supporting sales across both Oncology and BioPharmaceuticals. Emerging Markets, the US and Japan all grew strongly, and we delivered an encouraging turnaround in Europe in the second quarter. 

“Selective investment in sustainable growth also continued, particularly in Emerging Markets and in our launch programmes. Additional regulatory approvals for Lynparza in ovarian cancer in the EU and Japan, together with approvals for Breztri and Bevespi in COPD in Japan, illustrated further progress from our pipeline.

“Accompanying earnings growth this year, we are pleased to upgrade our Product Sales guidance and we are committed to working on our operating leverage and driving cash generation over the long term.”

AstraZeneca’s market cap is a mammoth £92.90bn and its share price had soared 176.83p to 7.081.82 by the start of this week.

Oncology product sales growth in the first half was 51 per cent higher to $2.167bn. Territorially, China sales were 34 per cent ahead to $1.166bn and US sales 16 per cent higher at $1.877bn. European sales returned to growth, albeit modest, while Japan sales increased 30 per cent to $672m.

As widely reported last week, Olaparib, a Cambridge-born medicine that has previously been used at a later stage in the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, has now been approved by NICE as a first-line maintenance treatment.

NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – advises the NHS in England and Wales on which drugs to buy and use.

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