Astrazeneca, the UK's number two pharmaceuticals firm, provided the latest despatch from the front line in its battle to protect sales of its ulcer drugs yesterday, revealing that revenues from its new product, Nexium, tripled in the third quarter.
The company has been struggling to switch patients to Nexium from Prilosec, AstraZeneca's most significant drug, which has gone off-patent and is expected to face copycat competitors soon.
AstraZeneca's ulcer drugs had a 46 per cent market share in the US in the three months to September, with $168m (£117m) of sales from Nexium – three times more than in the previous three months – making up for declining Prilosec sales.
Group sales were $3.95bn in total, up 9 per cent on the third quarter last year, with pre-tax profit rising 7 per cent to $1.04bn. The figures were largely in line with expectations, although sales of Zestril, a treatment for hypertension, were disappointing as a result of destocking by wholesalers. The shares fell 40p to 3,200p.
AstraZeneca has been fighting to keep generic competitors from the ulcer market and begins a court hearing on 5 December, where it will claim copycat products infringe existing patents on the way Prilosec is made.
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