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AstraZeneca’s Growth Platform Includes Symbicort, Pulmicort

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The RI&A segment

AstraZeneca’s (AZN) respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity (or RI&A) segment is included in the company’s growth platform and a key focus area for development. The segment’s contribution was 19.7% in 1Q16. Its key products are Symbicort and Pulmicort. Newly added products include Tudorza/Eklira and Duaklir.

To strengthen its portfolio, AstraZeneca acquired Almirall’s respiratory business and inhalation device subsidiary in November 2014. In 2015, it acquired Actavis’s (ACT) branded respiratory portfolio for the United States and Canada.

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Symbicort

Symbicort, another AstraZeneca blockbuster, is a respiratory drug used to prevent bronchospasms in patients suffering from severe asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Symbicort’s revenues declined 7% at constant exchange rates to $749 million in 1Q16. This followed lower demand due to increased competition from recently launched analogue medicines in Europe and pricing pressure from competition. It was partially offset by strong volume growth in US markets. Symbicort revenues increased in emerging markets by nearly 18% in 1Q16.

Symbicort has competitor drugs such as Advair from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Spiriva from Boehringer Ingelheim, Foradil from Merck & Co. (MRK), and Brovana from Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.

Pulmicort

Pulmicort is a respiratory drug used to prevent asthma attacks. Pulmicort’s revenues increased by 14% at constant exchange rates to $310 million in 1Q16. This came on the back of growth in emerging markets and China. Both Symbicort and Pulmicort have a growing demand across emerging markets, including China.

AstraZeneca added Eklira and Duaklir to its portfolio as a result of the AstraZeneca-Almirall deal. Tudorza and Daliresp were acquired from Actavis (ACT), now Allergan (AGN). The performance of these drugs is in line with the company’s expectations.

To divest risk, you can consider the VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH), which holds ~4.6% of its total assets in AstraZeneca. You can also consider the iShares Core MSCI Europe (IEUR), which holds ~1.0% of its total assets in AstraZeneca.

Next, let’s look at AstraZeneca’s oncology segment, its key focus.

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