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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
New drugs fuelling AstraZeneca
New drugs can work wonders for AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish drugs giant, has reported a sharp rise in sales fuelled by a strong take up of its new generation of drugs.

Sales in the three months to June rose by 19% to $5.29bn (2.87bn), with profits up 24% to $1.14bn (619.7m).

The company reported strong growth in products such as ulcer drug Nexium and anti-cholesterol product Crestor.

Strong performances from new drugs were needed to offset the impact of patent expiries on older treatments.

Chief executive Sir Tom McKillop said AstraZeneca was on course to hit full-year targets.

"Although the world pharmaceutical market is becoming increasingly challenging, AstraZeneca is well placed with its new products to deliver good growth," Sir Tom said.

Crestor challenge

Sales of new cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor totalled $207m, above forecasts of $182m, giving Crestor a 6.8% share of the US market for drugs of its type.

However, AstraZeneca said the drug had suffered from "recent unfounded challenges" to its safety profile.

This followed an article in UK medical magazine The Lancet which said there was "an inferior evidence base supporting its safe use".

Crestor is one of the drugs helping to make up for declining sales of older drugs such as ulcer pill Losec/Prilosec that have been replaced on the market by cheaper generic versions.

AstraZeneca's next major new drug hope is an anticoagulant pill, Exanta, which is awaiting approval as a treatment to prevent strokes in patients with certain heart problems.

Analysts reckon both Crestor and Exanta could each generate sales of more than $3bn a year for AstraZeneca.

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