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Published on 5 November 2007

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Astra profits hit by generic rivals


AstraZeneca has posted a 14% drop in third quarter profits, as its battle against cheaper generic drugs continues to take its toll.

The pharmaceuticals giant said that two of its major treatments are under pressure from rivals in the US, adding that another of its top-selling treatments is also under threat from potential competition.

The UK’s second largest drugs maker revealed pre-tax profits of 1.89bn US dollars (£907m) for the three months to the end of September, down from 2.19bn US dollars (£1.05bn) in the same quarter last year.

Sales of Toprol-XL, a treatment for angina, heart failure and high blood pressure, fell by 43% in the quarter, which the company attributed to the launch of generic competition in August.

And demand for the firm’s ulcer pill Nexium dipped by 1% in the quarter, as it also struggled to compete against generic rivals.

The firm’s cholesterol treatment Crestor may also find itself under pressure, after it emerged that Canadian firm Cobalt Pharmaceuticals is seeking US regulatory approval to sell copies.

But Astra said it has “full confidence in its intellectual property protecting Crestor”.

The group’s operating profits were down 4% in the third quarter to 2.02bn US dollars (£970m) largely as a result of the knock to Toprol sales, but also after hefty restructuring costs.

Astra announced a three-year overhaul plan in July, which will see 7,600 jobs axed worldwide as the group seeks to trim costs.

Copyright © PA Business 2007


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