Drug company shares rocket

PHARMACEUTICALS giant AstraZeneca saw its shares rocket yesterday after it won a three-year battle over its Crestor cholesterol drug which will keep rivals at bay in the US until 2016.

PHARMACEUTICALS giant AstraZeneca saw its shares rocket yesterday after it won a three-year battle over its Crestor cholesterol drug which will keep rivals at bay in the US until 2016.

A US court found the firm’s Crestor patent was “valid and enforceable” after a challenge by nine generic drugs manufacturers in 2007.

Astra soared 10% as investors welcomed the boost for the drug, which generated £1.4bn in US sales last year.

Chief executive David Brennan said: “The court’s decision reaffirms the strength of the intellectual property protecting Crestor.”

Astra’s shares surge added more than £4bn to the market value of the firm, with the heavyweight’s advance helping the wider FTSE 100 make modest gains after Tuesday’s 3% tumble.

JP Morgan’s Alexandra Hauber said the decision “removes a significant overhang” for the shares.

She said: “While generic challengers are likely to appeal, the probability of reversing this ruling appears low.”

Citigroup analyst Kevin Wilson added: “Yesterday’s ruling removes a major risk, given that Crestor is by far the company’s most important product in terms of potentially achieving the top end of the 2014 guidance range and returning to sustainable growth after this point.”

The firm faces another pivotal ruling in the months ahead as US regulators decide the future of its Brilinta anti-clotting drug.

An advisory committee of the US Food and Drug Administration will meet in July to discuss the drug.

Astra’s UK sites include Macclesfield and Wilmslow in Cheshire, Luton, Loughborough, Edinburgh and Brixham in Devon. The group lifted revenues 7% to £5.7bn in the first three months of the year, with pre-tax profits rising 12% to £2.3bn.

 

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