Thursday 29 July 2021 2:14 pm

Astrazeneca mulls offloading Covid vaccines unit even as total revenues soar above $15bn

UK-listed Covid vaccine maker Astrazeneca today admitted it’s considering offloading its vaccines unit even as it cheered a 23 per cent revenue rise to $15.5bn for the first half of 2021 – boosted in part by orders for the preventative measure.

A senior executive confirmed to Reuters that it is reviewing the future of the Covid vaccines business after a series of setbacks in its race to develop a shot for the world, including being sued by the European Union over jab deliveries.

FTSE-listed Astrazeneca agreed to work with the University of Oxford on its Covid-19 shot last year despite having no prior vaccine experience, taking on the project with a pledge not to make a profit during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are exploring different options,” Astrazeneca’s head of the biopharmaceuticals business unit Ruud Dobber said, referring to the vaccines business.

“Before year-end, we will have more clarity… if you ask me, is the vaccine business a sustainable business for Astrazeneca for the next five or 10 years, that big strategic question is under discussion.”

Dobber said that Astrazeneca was committed to delivering a massive rollout of hundreds of millions of doses that were covered by current contracts.

The pharma giant is currently trying to settle a case brought against it by the European Commission regarding missed delivery targets for Covid vaccines at the start of this year.

The pharmaceutical company reported an increase in its product sales by almost a quarter to $15.3bn.

Globally, new medicines represented over half of its total revenue, AstraZeneca said.

“AstraZeneca has delivered another period of strong growth thanks to robust performances across all regions and disease areas,” said chief executive officer, Pascal Soriot, of the results.

He highlighted: “In BioPharmaceuticals, the US approved Farxiga for chronic kidney disease and granted tezepelumab Priority Review to treat patients with asthma.”

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which AstraZeneca acquired for £28bn on 21 July, was excluded from the company’s financial report.

Alexion’s post-acquisition results will be included in AstraZeneca’s next quarterly results, expected on 12 November 2021.