AstraZeneca met CEO Pascal Soriot's $40B revenue goal early. Now, it plans 15 drug launches by 2030

AstraZeneca has delivered on CEO Pascal Soriot’s promise to grow revenues to more than $40 billion by 2023. Now, the chief exec is already mapping out his next goal.

AZ’s global revenue in 2022 reached $44.35 billion, including $43 billion from direct product sales. The British pharma therefore met Soriot’s sales promise—set in 2014 and later amended—when he fended off a takeover offer from Pfizer.

Soriot had some help reaching the goal. AZ’s acquisition of Alexion contributed $7.05 billion in rare disease sales last year, while COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria and antibody drug Evusheld reeled in $1.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

With that target in the rearview mirror, Soriot has now laid out AZ’s next phase of growth. AZ aims to launch at least 15 new drugs by 2030, Soriot told investors Thursday during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

One product that could soon launch is capivasertib, a potential first-in-class AKT inhibitor for breast cancer. 

Meanwhile, as Evusheld has become ineffective against new coronavirus variants, its emergency use authorization has been withdrawn. In that disease area, AZ is working on AZD3152, a next-generation COVID long-acting antibody, again as a preventive measure for immunocompromised people. AZ aims to introduce the drug in the second half of 2023, Soriot said.

In addition, AZ plans to start more than 30 phase 3 trials in 2023 alone, including in 10 potential blockbuster indications, Soriot said. Most of the studies are for drugs that are already on the market.

As for AZ’s commercial portfolio, most of AZ’s major products have enjoyed strong growth recently, though some at a pace slower than Wall Street expected.

EGFR lung cancer med Tagrisso, AZ’s top-selling product, delivered a 12% year-over-year revenue increase in the fourth quarter, reaching $1.34 billion. But the number was a slight decrease compared with the $1.4 billion haul AZ recorded in both the second and third quarters, and it missed Wall Street’s expectations by 7%.  

AZ blamed “hospital budget management” in China for the performance, but the company's oncology business chief Dave Fredrickson assured investors that demand in China will outpace the price reductions AZ recently took to win national reimbursement.

Moving to blood cancer, BTK inhibitor Calquence grew sales by 53% year over year at constant exchange rates to reach $588 million in the fourth quarter, lifting its 2022 total above $2 billion.

By the end of 2022, Calquence was taking 64% of new patient market share in the U.S. among BTK inhibitors, according to Fredrickson. The AZ exec suggested Calquence’s share will be “durable,” but as one analyst noted on the call, BeiGene’s Brukinsa is now better positioned than Calquence in the market.

Brukinsa in January joined the all-important chronic lymphocytic leukemia game with a head-to-head trial win against AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s market-leading Imbruvica. By comparison, Calquence only showed noninferior efficacy against Imbruvica. But Fredrickson argued that cross-trial comparisons between the two head-to-head studies were “not very appropriate” because of differences in trial patient populations.

“We’re well prepared to take on competition in the year ahead,” Fredickson said of Calquence, noting that Brukinsa’s uptake is currently still mostly in a later-line setting.

Meanwhile, antibody-drug conjugates have lately become a key focus at AstraZeneca. For the nine months ended in December, AZ’s partner Daiichi Sankyo reported Enhertu global sales of 139.7 billion Japanese yen ($1.1 billion). AZ reports most of its Enhertu gains as collaboration revenue.

After a head-to-head win against Roche’s rival drug Kadcyla, Enhertu has attracted half of new patient share in second-line HER2-positive breast cancer and over 40% of new patient share in HER2-low, post-chemo breast cancer in the U.S., Fredrickson said.

Trying to move Enhertu into earlier treatment settings, AZ and Daiichi expect to report data from the phase 3 DESTINY-Breast06 trial in pre-chemo HER2-low breast cancer in the second half of 2023.