More trouble for leaderless AstraZeneca as sales dive

Pre-tax profit was down by 36 per cent at £3.8bn in the first half of 2012

AstraZeneca, the struggling drug maker which is without a permanent boss after its chief executive quit under shareholder pressure, yesterday had another ailment to deal with as second-quarter sales fell by a fifth.

Sales tumbled 21 per cent to $6.6bn (£4.2bn) in the three months to June, hit by generic competition to Astra's best-selling antipsychotic medicine Seroquel, as well as European governments' squeeze on health spending.

Revenues in western Europe fell 20 per cent, following in the footsteps of Astra's bigger British rival GlaxoSmithKline, which yesterday admitted it will only see flat revenues this year.

But Astra has other difficulties: the FTSE 100 drugs giant's ex-chief executive, David Brennan, shocked the City when he quit in April in an apparent boardroom coup just hours before its shareholder meeting. Investors were angry about Astra's plunging revenues as key drugs faced generic competition, as well as its weak pipeline of newproducts, and yesterday threw up fresh evidence of just how bad its predicament is. About half of Astra's $33bn annual revenues are set to fall away over the next four years, including ulcer treatment Nexium, and cholesterol-buster Crestor, which is worth $6.6bn a year.

In the second quarter, a generic version of Seroquel hit the pharmacy shelves, accounting for 80 per cent of Astra's fall in US revenues, which were down 29 per cent in the three months to $2.3bn.

Simon Lowth, Astra's finance director who was promoted to interim chief executive, said: "The loss of exclusivity on some key brands and tough market conditions have resulted in a decline in revenue and earnings in the second quarter. Despite these challenges, we are on track to achieve our financial targets for the full year."

The drug maker's pre-tax profit was 36 per cent lower at $3.8bn in the first half of 2012.

"The second quarter result reflected the challenging environment that AstraZeneca faces with generics impacting sales of Seroquel IR and a portfolio dominated by mature products," said Brian White, pharma analyst at Shore Capital.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there