Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 13:58 UK

AstraZeneca profits increase 40%

AstraZeneca's main production building in Macclesfield
Pre-tax profits are boosted by sales of a heart drugs in America

Drug firm AstraZeneca has reported a 40% increase in pre-tax profits for the first three months of the year.

The Anglo-Swedish company made a pre-tax profit of £2.02bn ($3bn) between January and March, £578m more than the same period the year before.

The company is keeping its profit forecasts for 2009 unchanged because of the impact of the global recession.

Analysts say sales of the heart drugs Toprol-XL and Crestor helped improve profits despite unchanged sales levels.

The company's share price rose by 4% in mid-day trading on the London stock market.

The company increased production of Toprol-XL in the United States to meet demand after competitors withdraw their versions of the drug.

Sales of the company's cholesterol reducing drug Crestor also benefitted due to falling demand for a rival tablet, Vytorin.

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