AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the second-largest British company in that sector after GlaxoSmithKline. It has no exposure to over-the-counter healthcare, but manages a sizeable portfolio of prescription products, including eight $1bn-plus blockbusters in 2018. It is especially strong in oncology, respiratory and cardiovascular products. In 2007, the group agreed to acquire US biotechnology developer MedImmune. However AstraZeneca's drugs pipeline has been weakened considerably since the early 2000s by a series of patent expiries and the failure of several planned products. It also came under intense scrutiny from US regulators over unauthorised marketing of key drug Seroquel, and suffered the expiry of patents on several more of its top-selling drugs between 2014 and 2016. In 2014, AstraZeneca successfully fought off a takeover proposal from rival Pfizer but it remains a potential target, though for the time being it is pressing ahead with a series of acquisitions of its own. These have gradually strengthened its product pipeline; however, benefits from this only just began to be felt during 2018.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 24th May 2018: Trade source Fierce Pharma has compiled an interesting table of the top drugs sold in the US over the past 25 years, using cumulative sales figures. It passed its peak several years ago now, but Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor is still the clear leader with total sales to-date of almost $95bn. It could soon be toppled, though, by AbbVie's Humira, a treatment for auto-immune conditions. Sales are already almost $76bn, and Humira is expected to become the first drug ever to top $20bn in sales in a single year before its patent expires in 2023. In third place for now is Nexium, from AstraZeneca, for acid reflux and ulcers. It too is past its peak, but cumulative sales currently stand at over $72bn. GSK's Advair and Amgen's Enbrel rounded out the top five at $69bn and $68bn respectively. (See full feature here).
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Sep 2016: Pfizer is still shopping. A few days after agreeing to acquire US oncology drugmaker Medivation, it snapped up AstraZeneca's international antibiotics portfolio for up to $1.6bn, to be paid over several years depending on performance. Drugs include Zinforo, Zavicefta and Merrem. Allergan markets the most important of these drugs in the US under the names Teflaro and Avycaz.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: AstraZeneca continued with its shopping spree to plug holes in its ageing drug portfolio. It agreed to acquire the respiratory portfolio of rival Takeda for $575m, including international rights to Daxas, a treatment for chronic pulmonary disease. It acquired rights in the US, where it is known as Daliresp, earlier this year. AstraZeneca also recently agreed to pay $2.7bn for US company ZS Pharma, which is developing a treatment for blood disorders.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: DigitasLBi kicked off the awards at this year's Cannes Lions festival, with the first Grand Prix in the Lions Health event, now in its second year. The big winner was a generic campaign for AstraZeneca promoting the health benefits of triglycerides from fish oil, also the main ingredient in that pharma company's Epanova drug. It took top prize in the Pharma category as well as several metal awards.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Feb 2015: In another add-on to its portfolio, AstraZeneca bulked up with a deal to acquire a collection of respiratory medicines from smaller rival Actavis for $600m. Actavis brands Tudorza and Daliresp will be used to boost AstraZeneca's existing collection of lung drugs led by blockbuster Symbicort.
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