James Moore: Former vet aims to give Astra the treatment

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The Independent Online

Outlook Can a vet help AstraZeneca unearth the human treatments that will secure a profitable future for the company? We're about to find out.

The drugs giant has turned poacher, snapping up its new boss from Swiss rival Roche.

Pascal Soriot went from making animals feel better to making deals, and he seems to have been a dab hand at it. The head of Roche's pharmaceuticals division has earned rave reviews and appears to know his gene therapy from his gene sequencing.

In the meantime, acting chief executive Simon Lowth goes back to crunching the numbers. Pulling off an innovative deal for a diabetes drug in tandem with Bristol Myers Squib couldn't eclipse Mr Soriot's star power.

Deals, of course, can only provide part of the answer to Astra's problem which is a lacklustre pipeline of new treatments to replace ones whose patents are expiring.

Mr Soriot will need to prove that Astra can fashion its own cures if he wants to get the company off the sicklist.