2017 revenue: $22.50 billion
2016 revenue: $23 billion
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
Between Seroquel, Nexium and Crestor, AstraZeneca investors may have felt over the past few years that the extended fall off the patent cliff would never stop smarting. But the company promises things will turn around if they’ll just hang on.
According to execs, 2017 was the second-to-last year of sales pain. Revenues dropped 2% from where they were the year prior. Product sales tallied $21.32 billion, down 10% from 2016.
AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular and metabolic disease unit brought in the lion’s share of sales at $7.27 billion, or 36% of the company's total haul. Blockbusters Brilinta and Farxiga each grew by 29%, though diabetes product Onglyza dragged by 15% to negate some of their success. And Crestor, under generic attack, dropped by 30%, putting the unit in the red for the year overall.
Sales for the British drugmaker’s respiratory segment and its other diseases areas also shrank, thanks to declines for meds including the off-patent Nexium and Seroquel—which dipped by 4% and 55%, respectively—as well as vaccine FluMist and under-payer-pressure asthma and COPD product Symbicort.
The one area on the upswing? Oncology. Sales there passed the $4 billion mark at $4.02 billion, up from $3.38 billion in 2016 and $2.82 billion in 2015.
Sales of Tagrisso, a lung cancer med now approved in more than 60 markets, skyrocketed by 126% to $528 million, and PARP contender Lynparza’s sales swelled by more than 36% to $297 million. PD-L1 player Imfinzi and blood-cancer entrant Calquence each chipped in modestly after launching last year, but the company expects big things for both products down the line.
How big? That depends largely on the results of a closely watched phase 3 trial testing Imfinzi alongside CTLA4 candidate tremelimumab in first-line lung cancer. The pairing has already fallen short at staving off disease progression, though execs have said repeatedly that outcome doesn’t preclude a win on the overall survival front. And if Imfinzi-tremelimumab can stick the landing, it could mean a share of a lucrative field for AstraZeneca, which is duking it out against Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca also supplemented its product sales with $2.31 billion in externalization revenue—in other words, money it drummed up by selling off product rights. The strategy, which AstraZeneca has been using for a few years now, has faced criticism from certain industry watchers who have called it unsustainable. Last year's move to hand Merck half the revenue on Lynparza—which analysts say has a high ceiling—was especially frowned upon. But AstraZeneca execs say they’ll continue down that road as long as they need to.
The way CEO Pascal Soriot sees it, though, the company shouldn’t need to lean on asset sales for much longer. After 2018, the company will “experience fast growth,” he said on AstraZeneca's first-quarter conference call. For 2018, the London-based company expects sales to increase by a low-single-digit percentage.