AstraZeneca lifts 2014 forecast, but how will it deal with Nexium patent expiration?
- AstraZeneca raised its 2014 sales forecast in its Q3 earnings report thanks to strong, continued sales of its flagship drug Nexium. Sales rose 5% to $6.54 billion, beating expectations of $6.41 billion. Earnings per share were $1.05, beating expectations of $1.03.
- AZ is also due to get an upfront $325 million payment for divesting its orphan drug Myalept, the only therapy in the U.S. to be approved for leptin deficiency, to Aegerion Pharmaceuticals.
- But the next several years will be particularly challenging for the British pharma giant, with impending patent expirations for Nexium and the cholesterol blockbuster Crestor.
AZ CEO Pascal Soriot has been fighting tooth-and-nail to prove that his company can be its own master, warding off an $118 billion mega-bid from Pfizer. But with two of AZ's top-shelf products headed for patent expirations (Nexium's impending expiry and Crestor's slated 2016 expiration), he's certainly got his work cut out for him.
"Cost control will likely be a major focus in 2015 as the company tries to mitigate the damage of finally losing Nexium in the U.S.," said Berenberg Bank analyst Alistair Campbell in an interview with Reuters.
Soriot said that he plans on using the strong Q3 and 2014 sales to reinvest in AZ's growing pipeline in an effort to churn out as many effective meds as quickly as possible, particularly in the exciting and increasingly popular cancer immunotherapy field. But there's no doubt that next year, in particular, will be rough for AstraZeneca thanks to the impending generic battle against Nexium.
One small bit of relief for AZ in that arena? This morning, the FDA pulled its tentative support for approval of beleaguered Indian generics manufacturer Ranbaxy's generic versions of Nexium and Roche's Valcyte.