• Sunday, July 03, 2022

Business

AstraZeneca doubles profit in 2020

(Photo: ANDREW YATES/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

AstraZeneca, the British maker of a Covid vaccine with Oxford University, said on Thursday(11) that net profit more than doubled last year to $3.2 billion on strong sales of new cancer drugs.

Profit after tax, equivalent to $3.2bn, soared 139 per cent compared with 2019, the pharmaceutical giant said in a statement.

Group revenue jumped 9.0 per cent -or 10 per cent at constant exchange rates — to $26.6bn.

The update did not include any current or projected earnings from AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine which is being rolled out worldwide.

“Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth” in 2020, chief executive Pascal Soriot said in the earnings statement.

“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,” he added.

The update comes one day after AstraZeneca said it plans to accelerate production of its Covid vaccine in the second quarter to support EU needs, thanks to a deal struck with Germany’s IDT Biologika.

AstraZeneca’s other main focus is oncology treatments, which accounted for 43 per cent of group revenues in 2020.

Revenue from cancer medicines, including Lynparza and Tagrisso, jumped 23 per cent year-on-year.

The coronavirus pandemic meanwhile hit sales of other AstraZeneca drugs.

The company said “the largest direct impacts of Covid-19 on the company’s portfolio” included reduced sales of respiratory drug Pulmicort in China and less use globally of infused and injectable medicines such as Imfinzi and Fasenra.

Sales of Brilinta were impacted by a drop in hospital admissions to treat heart attacks, the company added.

AstraZeneca’s share price was up 1.7 per cent at £73.70 following the earnings update on London’s FTSE 100 index, which was steady overall.

While the UK government has vaccinated millions of Britons with the AstraZeneca vaccine since late last year, the company began shipping its jab to the EU only on Friday(5) after the bloc’s drug regulator took a comparatively much longer time to recommend its use.

AstraZeneca’s 2020 was notable also for its $39bn takeover of US biotech firm Alexion in December as it looks to boost treatments of blood disorders.

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