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DRUGS

AstraZeneca hit by steep drop in profits

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on Thursday said that its net profit tumbled 38 percent in the first quarter of the year to $1.0 billion after losing market exclusivity for some of its key drugs.

AstraZeneca hit by steep drop in profits

AstraZeneca said earnings after tax for the January-March period compared with net profit of $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

Pre-tax profit dropped 36 percent to $1.3 billion in the reporting period.

“As anticipated, the first quarter performance reflects the loss of exclusivity for several large products,” AstraZeneca chief executive said in the earnings statement.

Group revenue slid 13 percent to $6.38 billion compared with one year earlier, as AstraZeneca lost exclusivity for schizophrenia treatment Seroquel IR and heart-failure medication Atacand in many markets, and for anti-cholesterol drug Crestor in Canada.

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“Whilst this impact will be felt throughout the year, comparisons with prior year periods should improve as the 12 month anniversaries for generic competition for Seroquel IR in many markets, and for Crestor in Canada are reached,” AstraZeneca added in Thursday’s statement.

“Consequently, for the full year the company continues to anticipate a mid-to-high single digit decline in revenue on a constant currency basis.”

AstraZeneca last month settled a long-running patent lawsuit over its top-selling Crestor treatment. Also in March, the company announced plans to cut 5,050 jobs — or about 9.0 percent of its current global workforce – over the next three years.

AFP/The Local/dl

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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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