AstraZeneca to be probed over heart drug trial

ANGLO-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca revealed the identity of its new chief financial officer (CFO) yesterday, but the firm has been hit by falling profits and an investigation in the US over a major clinical trial.

Announcing a 29 per cent drop in core operating profits for its third quarter, the firm also said that Marc Dunoyer – who had joined from rival GlaxoSmithKline in June – would be promoted to CFO to replace Simon Lowth, who has joined BG Group.

Dunoyer will have to get to grips with a set of accounts that have been hit hard by generic competition.

Revenues fell to $6.25bn (£3.89bn) in the July to September period, a four per cent drop at constant exchange rates compared to a year earlier.

The fall in core operating profits saw this measure of earnings come in at $2.03bn, down from $2.92bn last year.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot, who joined the company 13 months ago, said that “loss of exclusivity for several key brands” weighed on the figures, yet insisted he is confident of new products emerging from its pipeline.

However, one of its drugs may be in trouble after the firm said it received a civil investigative demand from the US Department of Justice 10 days ago. The investigation is regarding the so-called Plato study, which was used to win marketing approval for a heart treatment named Brilinta.

AstraZeneca plans to co-operate with the case, it said.