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PHARMACEUTICAL

AstraZeneca payout resolves US tax dispute

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Monday it had settled a tax dispute with US authorities by agreeing on a net payment of $1.1 billion.

AstraZeneca additionally raised its 2011 earnings target after also securing a lower tax rate and being able to free up some of the $2.3 billion it had set aside as tax provisions, it said in a group statement.

The company said it would release some of the excess provisions, resulting in a net gain to the company’s first-quarter earnings of $500 million.

AstraZeneca added that it was now targeting full-year core earnings per share of up to $7.20 from a previous estimate of $6.75, according to the statement.

Resolution of the tax dispute came after British and US government fiscal authorities agreed to the terms of a pricing agreement for AstraZeneca’s US business for a 13-year period from 2002 to the end of 2014.

AstraZeneca added that it had reached agreement with the US tax authorities on a related valuation matter arising on integration of its US businesses in 2000 after the 1999 merger of Swedish group Astra and British company Zeneca.

“Based on these agreements, AstraZeneca now expects to pay a net amount of $1.1 billion to resolve all US transfer pricing and related valuation matters for all periods from 2000 to the end of 2010,” the group said in its statement.

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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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