Year Established: 1999
Revenues: $22,090 (-2%)
Net Income: $2,050 (-29%)
R&D: $5,932 (+3%)
TOP SELLING DRUGS
|Farxiga||type 2 diabetes||$1,316||29%|
While AstraZeneca’s total revenue for 2018 was off 2% ($22.1 bn) compared to last year, product sales were actually up 4%, climbing to $21.0 billion. The UK-based pharma major also ended the year on a high note, with a strong performance in the fourth quarter, including product sales growth of 5% and total revenue growth of 11%.
Product sales growth for the year can be attributed to the strong performance of new medicines (+81%) and the sustained strength of emerging markets (+12%), particularly China sales, which were up by 28% for the year. Oncology sales increased by 50% with Tagrisso and Lynparza each doubling in sales, along with promising performance from Imfinzi. Asthma drug Fasenra sales reached $297 million in its first full launch year.
Looking further into AstraZeneca’s oncology performance, Tagrisso sales of $1.8 billion represented growth of 95%. Based on its performance in 2018, AstraZeneca anticipates it to be its biggest-selling medicine in 2019. Lynparza sales of $647 million grew 118%, driven by expanded use in the treatment of ovarian cancer and the medicine’s first approvals for use in the treatment of breast cancer. Imfinzi sales of $633 million grew from $19 million the year before, reflecting ongoing launches.
Also in oncology news, AstraZeneca strengthened its development and commercialization collaboration with Innate Pharma in October 2018. The agreement extension enriched AstraZeneca’s immuno-oncology portfolio with preclinical and clinical assets. It obtained full oncology rights to the first-in-class humanized anti-NKG2A antibody, monalizumab. It also gained option rights to IPH5201, an antibody targeting CD39, as well as four preclinical molecules from Innate Pharma’s pipeline. In addition, Innate licensed the U.S. and EU commercial rights to recently FDA-approved cancer drug Lumoxiti, which was launched in the U.S. in the fourth quarter.
On the divestment front, AstraZeneca sold a few pieces of its portfolio at the end of the year to sharpen its focus in oncology. In November, it completed an agreement to divest the prescription medicine rights to Nexium in Europe, as well as the global rights (excluding the U.S. and Japan) to Vimovo, to Grünenthal. AstraZeneca received payments of $700 million for Nexium and $115 million for Vimovo. During the same month AstraZeneca struck a $1.5 billion deal with Sobi for the rights to its infant drug Synagis. In December, it completed an agreement with Covis Pharma to sell its rights to asthma medicine Alvesco, and nasal relief drugs Omnaris and Zetonna, for $350 million.
Drug discovery tie-ups
MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, entered an exclusive license agreement with Compugen, a provider of predictive discovery and development of first-in-class therapeutics for cancer immunotherapy, for the development of bi-specific and multi-specific immuno-oncology antibody products. Compugen is providing an exclusive license to MedImmune for the development of bi-specific and multi-specific antibody products derived from a Compugen pipeline program. MedImmune has the right to create multiple products under this license and will be solely responsible for all research, development and commercial activities under the agreement.
In other discovery news, AstraZeneca adopted Horizon Discovery’s Edit-R crRNA libraries as part of its initiative to establish a functional genomics discovery platform. AstraZeneca also joined the Genomics Discovery Initiative (GDI), a collaborative functional genomics screening community facilitated by Horizon. AstraZeneca has been evaluating Horizon’s Edit-R human whole genome crRNA library for gene knockout since late 2017, and added the company’s platform of arrayed synthetic crRNA libraries for CRISPR-mediated transcriptional activation (CRISPRa). The libraries offer a tool for functional genomic screens in drug discovery, providing deeper insight into biological mechanisms for the purpose of understanding disease progression, host-pathogen relationships, drug interactions, and pathway analysis.
Also, Bicycle Therapeutics is expanding its collaboration with AstraZeneca to include additional targets in respiratory and cardio-metabolic diseases. The original collaboration was signed in late 2016 and with the expansion has a potential value in excess of $1 billion. Under the terms of the collaboration, Bicycle is responsible for identifying targets for an undisclosed number of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases specified by AstraZeneca, while AstraZeneca is responsible for further development and product commercialization.
Lastly, Ionis Pharmaceuticals licensed its Generation 2.5 IONIS-AZ5-2.5 to AstraZeneca. IONIS-AZ5-2.5 is an antisense drug designed to inhibit an undisclosed target to treat a genetically associated form of kidney disease. AstraZeneca is responsible for developing and commercializing IONIS-AZ5-2.5.
AstraZeneca entered a couple clinical collaborations during the year as well. With Bavarian Nordic it formed a new collaboration to investigate CV301, the company’s targeted immunotherapy candidate, and durvalumab (IMFINZITM), AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 inhibitor, in combination with maintenance chemotherapy for patients with metastatic colorectal or pancreatic cancers. Also, Syndax Pharmaceuticals entered a clinical collaboration with AstraZeneca to evaluate the safety and efficacy of durvalumab in combination with SNDX-6352, Syndax’s monoclonal antibody inhibitor of Colony-Stimulating Factor 1 Receptor (CSF1R), across a variety of solid tumors.