AstraZeneca’s drugs pipeline progresses as COVID vaccine data awaited


(Reuters) – AstraZeneca, the British drugmaker working on one of the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccine hopefuls, reported progress in its pipeline of other medicines on Thursday as it posted a mixed set of third-quarter results.

The company also echoed comments from its partners at Oxford university, who said on Wednesday data from a late-stage study of the potential COVID-19 vaccine should land this year.

AstraZeneca/Oxford are racing with Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and others to publish the first detailed results from large COVID-19 vaccine trials. A vaccine is seen as the world’s best bet for beating a pandemic that has led to more than 1.2 million deaths, roiled economies and disrupted billions of lives.

AstraZeneca has scored billions in funding and signed multiple deals to supply over three billion doses to countries around the world. However, a UK official said on Wednesday the delivery timetable for shots had slipped.

While working on the vaccine, AstraZeneca is also making progress on its pipeline of other drugs.

On Thursday, the company said two of its main drugs – cancer treatment Lynparza and diabetes medicine Forxiga – had been approved for wider use in Europe.

For the third quarter, product sales of $6.52 billion were ahead of a company-compiled consensus of $6.50 billion. The number excluded payments from collaborations.

“We made encouraging headway in the quarter, despite the ongoing disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said.

However, the company reported core earnings of 94 cents per share for the three months ended Sept. 30, lower than analysts’ expectations of 98 cents.

In eight years at the helm here, Soriot has driven a change in AstraZeneca’s fortunes by betting on newer products and investing in research, putting the company on the global stage.

The company said it still expected total revenue in 2020 to increase by a high single-digit to a low double-digit percentage and core earnings per share to increase by a mid- to high-teens percentage.

Total revenue growth slowed to 3% from 11% in the third quarter as last year’s number was boosted by $200 million in milestone payments.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Bernard Orr and Mark Potter


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