ASTRAZENECA has posted better-than-expected profits as key brands such as cholesterol product Crestor helped it weather testing conditions.
The group’s fourth quarter haul topped forecasts at £1.7bn, a drop of 5%, and meant Cheshire-based Astra delivered profits for the year of just over £8.2bn, up 2%.
Chief executive David Brennan said the 2010 performance showed the strength and resilience of Astra’s business as it faced up to government pressure on pricing and patent expiries in the United States and Western Europe.
As well as double-digit sales growth for Crestor, Astra also generated strong revenues from asthma treatment Symbicort and Seroquel XR, a medicine for bipolar disorder.
Revenues from emerging markets also grew to more than £3.1bn, with China accounting for more than £630m.
The group has been hampered by problems with its newest medicines after it discontinued its motavizumab drug, used to prevent serious lung disease, leading to a £287.2m accounting charge.
It has also experienced further delays in winning approval from US regulators for its heart medicine Brilinta.