AstraZeneca returns to form with success in Cancer portfolio and rapid growth in China

AZ’s lung cancer drug Tagrissio has already established itself as AZ top selling medicine, in the third quarter it grew sales by over 13.6% over the previous period to $891m surpassing analysts’ predictions by 4%.

Following suit is its immunotherapy treatment Imfinizi, which joined the blockbuster club, with its sales in the first 9 months reaching $1.05bn.

Tagrisso’s US sales grew to $350m in Q3 from $300m in Q2, with over half of that growth attributed to an increase in demand. The continued success of Tagrisso is also dependent on its performance in other markets particularly China, which has been a major contributor to AZ recent success, contributing 21% to AZ top line year to date. As of September, Tagrisso has Chinese approval in new patients with EGFR-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). EFGR mutation in NSCLC patients is extremely prevalent in China standing at around 30-40%, more than any other country in the world.

AZ had expected growth to slow down in China in the second half of the year, but its Q3 results show that the country still turned up an impressive 40% increase at constant exchange rates. This does not mean the obstacles in China have disappeared but have only been delayed. The reason why its obstacles delayed is because the national rollout of a bulk procurement programme that is meant to cut prices of some of the older medicines was slower than expected.

AZ Imfinzi and Lynparza are set to face competition from rivals Bristol Myers Squibb and GSK respectively. CEO, Soriot announced that it doesn’t want people to think AZ is planning to become an oncology specialist company, stating that AZ has a very broad base of progress across therapy areas, meaning AZ is less exposed to something wrong happening with one product or another.

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