AZ's pressured diabetes and respiratory drugs lag, triggering Q3 sales miss


AstraZeneca’s top line got hit hard in Q3, and much of the pain came from plummeting Crestor sales. But the British drugmaker had its underperformance in a couple of key therapy areas to blame, too.

Product sales of $5.03 billion landed 14% below consensus estimates, Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson wrote in a Thursday note to clients, with respiratory and diabetes sales both coming in weak. Symbicort, in particular, felt the burn from a rebate adjustment during the quarter, while GLP-1 products Bydureon and Byetta suffered on competition.

The showing was “a reminder of AstraZeneca’s exposure to these payer pressured areas,” Anderson wrote. And Crestor and Nexium, which declined by 44% and 20%, respectively, didn’t make things any better.

Results weren’t all bad, though. New cancer-fighter Tagrisso put up $133 million--a tally Anderson dubbed “solid.” And a tax benefit of $0.36 helped take EPS to $1.32 to top analysts’ 98-cent predictions handily.

But AZ will need its other portfolio meds to step it up, especially now that blood-thinner Brilinta won’t be putting up the numbers the company once hoped for. Early last month, the British pharma giant flopped its second trial in less than 6 months, dashing hopes for a new indication in peripheral artery disease (PAD). And in response, Brilinta chief Ludovic Helfgott called the med’s $3.5 billion sales target “unrealistic.”

AstraZeneca is also looking to PARP inhibitor Lynparza to come up big, but that med may soon have some competition from a closely watched prospect. Massachusetts biotech Tesaro is working to bring its niraparib to the prostate cancer market. And Pfizer--which recently wrapped a buyout of California’s Medivation--has its talazoparib in the works, too, though that drug is further off.