AstraZeneca's profits drop23rd November 2006
Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group, AstraZeneca, has warned that its end of year profits will be lower than expected due to the early release of a rival generic version of its best-selling heart drug, Toprol XL.
Shares in AstraZeneca dipped 10p to £30 and the group has predicted that earnings per share will be towards the lower end of its current guidance.
The news serves to highlight the intensifying fight between pioneering companies that develop new drugs and copycat generic manufacturers which challenge patents and hurriedly produce cheaper alternatives.
However, AstraZeneca recently agreed a deal to distribute a generic version of the drug - metoprolol succinate – on behalf of Par Pharmaceuticals, its manufacturer. AstraZeneca said it allowed Par to sell an "authorised" version of the 25mg dose of Toprol XL to minimise the threat from an "at risk" launch in the US of the same drug by Eon Laboratories, part of Sandoz of Germany. Surprisingly though, Sandoz, parent of Eon, is owned by Novartis of Switzerland, itself an innovative pharmaceutical company that last year sharply expanded its generic activities.
Generic versions of the beta-blocker were generated by an early-then-expected ruling from a US court in January against AstraZeneca's claims of patents on the once-a-day XL formulation of Toprol. AstraZeneca is appealing.
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Title: AstraZeneca's profits drop
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 1259
Date Added: 23rd Nov 2006