Respiratory Segment: AstraZeneca’s Growth Platform


Feb. 28 2017, Updated 10:36 a.m. ET

Respiratory segment

AstraZeneca’s (AZN) Respiratory segment is one of the company’s growth platforms and a key focus area of development. The segment contributed 20.7% to the company’s total revenues in 2016. Symbicort and Pulmicort are the key products for AZN’s Respiratory segment, and its newly added products include Tudorza, Eklira, and Duaklir.

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Symbicort, another blockbuster drug from AstraZeneca, is a respiratory drug used to prevent bronchospasm in patients suffering from severe asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Symbicort’s revenues fell 10% at constant exchange rates to ~$3.0 billion in 2016. Factors that contributed to its falling revenues include lower sales in the US, as well as competition from branded and analog medicines in the Europe markets, partially offset by growth in emerging markets.

Symbicort’s competitor drugs include Advair from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Spiriva by Boehringer Ingelheim, Foradil from Merck & Co. (MRK), and Brovana from Sunovion Pharmaceuticals.


Pulmicort is a respiratory drug used to prevent asthma attacks. Pulmicort’s revenues rose 8% at constant exchange rates to ~$1.1 billion in 2016, following growth in emerging markets and China. Symbicort and Pulmicort have a growing demand across Emerging markets including China.

Eklira and Duaklir were added to AstraZeneca’s portfolio as a result of the AstraZeneca–Almirall deal, while Tudorza and Daliresp were acquired from Actavis, which was acquired by Allergan (AGN).

For broad-based exposure to this industry, investors can consider the iShares Core MSCI Europe ETF (IEUR). IEUR holds ~0.9% of its total assets in AstraZeneca, 1.1% of its total assets in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), 1.9% of its total assets in Novartis (NVS), and 0.9% of its total assets in Novo Nordisk (NVO).


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