AstraZeneca profit deteriorates

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that group net profit fell 15.4 percent to $1.343 billion (€931 million) in the third quarter, as higher costs weighed.

Profit fell despite revenue rising almost ten percent to 7.150 billion dollars in the three months to September 30, a statement said.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said the group remained “on track to meet its earnings target for the full year” despite higher costs and increased competition from generic drugs.

Profits during the third quarter were partly hit by the cost of a restructuring programme related to AstraZeneca’s acquisition of US biotechnology company MedImmune for $15.6 billion earlier this year.

Amid higher costs, AstraZeneca in July unveiled plans to slash 7,600 jobs by 2010, more than double an original estimate.

AstraZeneca intends to cut about 12 percent of its global workforce over the next two years as part of a major restructuring programme which will cost $1.6 billion dollars, more than triple an initial forecast of $500 million.

The group is meanwhile known for producing the cholesterol treatment Crestor and breast cancer medicine Arimidex. But last month AstraZeneca lost its exclusive patent for its blockbuster asthma treatment Symbicort after generic producers challenged it at the European Patent Office.


Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.