AstraZeneca profits rise as imitations fail to dent sales

DRUGMAKER AstraZeneca reported an 18 per cent jump in second-quarter pre-tax profits yesterday, as competition from imitations of its pharmaceuticals proved less fierce than expected.<br /><br />Pre-tax earnings rose to $2.61bn (&pound;1.58bn), up from $2.47bn in the same quarter of 2008, bringing half-year profits to $5.61bn, 27 per cent ahead of last year&rsquo;s six-month performance of $4.42bn.<br /><br />Chief executive David Brennan said that generic drugmakers &ndash; which copy medicines once they are out of patent &ndash; had been less active than usual, particularly with regard to heart treatment Toprol-XL and prostate cancer drug Casodex.<br /><br />The group was buoyed by increased sales in the crucial US and Japanese markets, which were up 10 per cent and 23 per cent respectively over the six months.<br /><br />Global sales at constant exchange rates were up eight per cent with cholesterol Crestor drug emerging as the group&rsquo;s jewel in the crown, increasing sales by 33 per cent.<br /><br />Brennan said the firm was also exploring new ways to administer a swine flu vaccine, adding that AstraZeneca hoped to have 200m doses of the vaccine.