AstraZeneca Expects Decline in Covid-19 Medicine Sales in 2022 — Update

By Cecilia Butini

AstraZeneca PLC on Friday said that it expects sales of its Covid-19 medicines, including its vaccine, to decline by a low-to-mid-20s percentage during the year, though it reported higher first-quarter revenue on the back of previous vaccine contracts.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant said revenue in the quarter rose to $11.39 billion in the from $7.32 billion a year earlier, due to contribution from medicines of acquired company Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Covid-19 vaccine contracts that are awaiting delivery this year.

The company said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were negatively affected by a $1.18 billion unwind of inventory fair-value uplift recognized on the acquisition of Alexion. The metric was $2.19 billion, down from $2.69 billion, it said.

Net profit was $386 million, down from $1.56 billion. Core earnings per share rose 16% to $1.89, AstraZeneca said.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine generated revenue of $1.15 billion, and Covid-19 treatment Evusheld brought in $469 million, it said. Its vaccine and immune-therapy business reported a revenue increase to $1.81 billion, from $301 million, the company said.

The company’s oncology business also grew in the quarter, though it said Covid-19 continues to affect cancer diagnosis and treatment. Bestselling cancer drugs Tagrisso, Imfinzi, Lynparza, Calquence and Enhertu drove a sales gain in the division as patient access to the drugs increased, the company said.

Looking ahead, AstraZeneca said that in 2022 it expects total revenue to increase by a high-teens percentage, and core EPS to increase by a mid-to-high-20s percentage. Considering the expected decline in the sales of Covid-19 medicines, however, AstraZeneca said gross margin from those medicines is expected to be lower than the company average.

The company said it will open a new research-and-development center in Cambridge, Mass.

Write to Cecilia Butini at cecilia.butini@wsj.com

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