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ASTRAZENECA

AstraZeneca sees 2007 profits sag

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said on Thursday that net profit fell 7.2 percent last year to $5.63 billion (€3.79 billion), owing partly to a major restructuring.

Revenue climbed 11.6 percent to 29.56 billion dollars, the company said in a results statement.

Faced with soaring costs, AstraZeneca unveiled plans last year to slash 7,600 jobs by 2010. The group is also facing increased competition from generic drugs.

Pre-tax profits slid 6.5 percent to $7.98 billion, slightly above market expectations for $7.89 billion.

“I am confident that we are taking the right steps to better position AstraZeneca as we, and the industry, encounter increasingly challenging market conditions,” chief executive David Brennan said in the earnings release.

In the fourth quarter alone, AstraZeneca said net profit tumbled 11.8 percent from a year earlier to $1.28 billion.

The group booked restructuring costs of $362 million in the last quarter of 2007, which was slightly more than predicted and contributed to the fall in profits.

AstraZeneca’s major products put in a mixed performance in 2007.

Sales of heartburn treatment Nexium fell 2.0 percent to $5.22 billion but Seroquel, AstraZeneca’s schizophrenia treatment, fared better, with sales rising 15 percent to $4.03 billion.

Cholesterol treatment Crestor saw its sales rocket by a third to $2.80

billion.

Profits were also hit by the cost of AstraZeneca’s acquisition of US biotechnology company MedImmune for $15.6 billion last year.

NORWAY

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.

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