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AstraZeneca posts stellar full-year results for 2020 powered by new medicines

AstraZeneca has unveiled a stellar set of full-year results for 2020, powered by significant achievements in its pipeline and a strong performance from new medicines.

Total revenues rose 10 per cent on a constant exchange rate (CER) basis to $26.62billion.

A scientist in a lab
A scientist in a lab

Core operating profit rose by 17 per cent to $7.34bn and core earnings per share reached $4.02.

The Cambridge-headquartered biopharmaceutical achieved these results while producing its Covid-19 vaccine with Oxford University on a not-for-profit basis, and is anticipating revenues in 2021 to increase by a low teens percentage.

This year should also see the completion of its $39bn acquisition of Boston-based rare disease and immunology specialist Alexion and the company is due to begin moving into its new $500m-plus global R&D centre and HQ on Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

CEO Pascal Soriot said: “The performance last year marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth to leverage improved profitability and cash generation.

“The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve, while the proposed acquisition of Alexion is intended to accelerate our scientific and commercial evolution even further.

“Additional investment in new medicines continued to fuel our rapidly growing oncology and biopharmaceuticals therapy areas.

“Tagrisso’s future was enhanced with its first regulatory approval in early, potentially-curable lung cancer and further national reimbursement in China in advanced disease.

“Farxiga again expanded its potential beyond diabetes, while tezepelumab promised real hope for patients suffering from severe asthma.

“Thanks to the focus on an industry-leading pipeline and consistent execution, I am confident that we will continue to deliver more progress for patients and sustained, compelling results.”

The 11 per cent growth in product sales reflected strong performances from new medicines, which accounted for more than half of AstraZeneca’s revenues in 2020.

And there was growth to in emerging markets for AstraZeneca, with revenues rising 10 per cent there, driven particularly by these new medicines.

Oncology continued to be its strongest therapy area, contributing $11.46bn to the revenue line, up 24 per cent, with Tagrisso ($4.3bn, up 36 per cent), Imfinzi ($2bn, up 37 per cent) and Lynparza (£1.8bn, up 49 per cent) all delivering.

Meanwhile, new cardiovascular, renal and metabolism grew nine per cent to $4.7bn, with diabetes and asthma medicine Farxiga growing 30 per cent.

Results in respiratory and immunology were level, year on year, at a CER basis. There was a 12 per cent hit on revenues in this therapy area due to a decline in sales of Pulmicort in China, which resulted from fewer nebulisation-centre visits and reduced elective surgery during the pandemic.

Covid-19 has also led to reduced use globally of infused and injectable medicines, such as Imfinzi and Fasenra and with the number of hospital admissions around the world for the treatment of heart attacks down and lower levels of elective percutaneous coronary intervention, sales of Brilinta were also affected.

But changing patterns in healthcare may also have boosted the use of other products, including oral medicines such as Calquence, which replaced some infused-chemotherapy regimens.

The results leave AstraZeneca in an excellent position in 2021 and its forecasts that “sustainable long-term growth in revenue, profit and cash generation” is set to continue.

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