Drug firm AstraZeneca sees 3rd quarter earnings fall 12 pct

LONDON – Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said Thursday that its third-quarter earnings fell 12 per cent as its blockbuster cholesterol drug Crestor faced its first full quarter of competition in the United States from generic alternatives.

Operating profit declined to $1.03 billion from $1.17 billion in the same period a year earlier. Net income, which includes finance expenses and a one-time tax benefit of $319 million, rose 32 per cent to $1.01 billion.

AstraZeneca has been cutting costs so it can devote more resources to cancer drugs. Sales of cancer treatments rose 19 per cent to $867 million, driven by the introduction of the lung cancer drug Tagrisso and the ovarian cancer drug Lynparza.

U.S. sales of Crestor fell 82 per cent to $124 million after generic competitors went on sale in July.

It remains unclear what impact the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president might have on pharmaceutical giants like AstraZeneca. The Republican leader has pledged to roll back Obamacare, the U.S. program to help individuals get health insurance.

During a call with analysts, CEO Pascal Soriot said he didn’t want to speculate on what the “new landscape” would look like, but that he hoped any new legislation would include policy that supports innovation.

“We also believe that we will have to continue to deal with price pressure,” he said.