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AstraZeneca’s Key Focus: Oncology

Mike Benson - Author
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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 12:49 p.m. ET

The oncology segment

AstraZeneca’s (AZN) key focus is its oncology segment. The segment’s contribution increased to more than 12% in 1Q16. Its key products include Zoladex, Faslodex, and Iressa. To strengthen its oncology portfolio, AstraZeneca acquired Definiens in November 2014.

Now let’s look at the segment’s key products and their performances.

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Iressa

Iressa is a drug used for the treatment of lung cancer. Iressa’s revenues declined by 1% at constant exchange rates in 1Q16 due to lower sales in Japan, emerging markets, and China. It was partially offset by a higher demand in US and European markets.

Zoladex

Zoladex is a drug used for the treatment of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer or endometriosis in women. Zoladex’s 1Q16 revenues decreased by 1% at constant exchange rates following a 9% decline in European sales.

Zoladex competes with drugs such as Enantone from Takeda Pharmaceutical (TYO) and Decapeptyl from Ipsen (IPN).

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Faslodex

Faslodex is used for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer and for patients who have been treated with endocrine therapy. Faslodex’s 1Q16 revenues increased 24% at constant exchange rates following increased demand in the United States as well as markets outside the United States. Nearly 50% of Faslodex revenues are from markets outside the United States.

Faslodex competes with drugs such as Femara from Novartis (NVS) and Xeloda from Genentech, a Roche (RHHBY) company.

New oncology products

AstraZeneca’s new oncology products included in its growth platform are Lynparza and Tagrisso. Lynparza is a drug used for the treatment of ovarian cancer. It was launched in US markets in December 2014 and in 15 countries, including France and Germany, by the end of 2015. In January 2016, Lynparza was granted breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Tagrisso, a new drug for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, was approved in 4Q15. It was launched in US markets in November 2015 and reported revenues of $51 million in 1Q16.

To avoid the risk, you can consider the iShares S&P Global Healthcare (IXJ), which holds ~2.2% of its total assets in AstraZeneca. You can also consider the First Trust Value Line Dividend ETF (FVD), which holds ~0.5% of its total assets in AstraZeneca. IXJ holds 5.2% of its total assets in Pfizer (PFE).

In the next part of the series, we’ll see what changes AstraZeneca is making to improve profitability.

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