AstraZeneca profit deteriorates

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that group net profit fell 15.4 percent to $1.343 billion (€931 million) in the third quarter, as higher costs weighed.

Profit fell despite revenue rising almost ten percent to 7.150 billion dollars in the three months to September 30, a statement said.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said the group remained “on track to meet its earnings target for the full year” despite higher costs and increased competition from generic drugs.

Profits during the third quarter were partly hit by the cost of a restructuring programme related to AstraZeneca’s acquisition of US biotechnology company MedImmune for $15.6 billion earlier this year.

Amid higher costs, AstraZeneca in July unveiled plans to slash 7,600 jobs by 2010, more than double an original estimate.

AstraZeneca intends to cut about 12 percent of its global workforce over the next two years as part of a major restructuring programme which will cost $1.6 billion dollars, more than triple an initial forecast of $500 million.

The group is meanwhile known for producing the cholesterol treatment Crestor and breast cancer medicine Arimidex. But last month AstraZeneca lost its exclusive patent for its blockbuster asthma treatment Symbicort after generic producers challenged it at the European Patent Office.