AstraZeneca says a U.S. expansion is needed to realize pipeline potential

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has been touting its pipeline full of promising products as a reason it will return to growth by 2017 and has no need to hook up with Pfizer ($PFE). As if to put an exclamation point on that declaration, the company says it will kick off a U.S. expansion that will add 300 jobs so it can realize that potential.

Andrew Skibo

"Our global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, has a robust pipeline of more than 120 biologics, including more than 30 in clinical development," AstraZeneca Regional Vice President Andrew D. Skibo, explained in a statement. Nearly half of the company's entire pipeline is made up of biologics.

In making his defense against Pfizer's hostile takeover attempt earlier this year, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot promised $45 billion in sales by 2023, a huge goal, given that last year revenue reached only $27 billion, and 2014's sales are forecast to grow only a little. But during an investor day last week, the CEO was talking up all of that pipeline, pointing to biologic drugs under development like the cancer med Olaparib, which it says can hit annual sales of $2 billion. It is up for global approvals early next year. Another potential winner is an immuno-oncology therapy targeting PD-L1 that the company is counting on for $6.5 billion a year in peak sales.

Soriot seems to be repeating the pipeline potential mantra in hopes of convincing Pfizer not to return with its hostile intentions. The CEO and his board repeatedly beat back Pfizer offers that eventually reached $117 billion, saying the company is better off on its own. Some analysts think Pfizer may rerun its takeover effort with a higher offer, but some recent moves by Pfizer to boost its earnings suggest it has other plans.

- here's the AstraZeneca announcement

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