Cancer drugs help drive AstraZeneca sales sharply higher

AstraZeneca revealed soaring sales over the latest quarter as it was boosted by its cancer drugs.

Shares in the Cambridge-based company jumped by 5% in early trading on Thursday as shareholders welcomed the performance.

The pharmaceutical giant revealed that total revenues jumped by 19% to 12.68 billion US dollars (£10.1 billion) for the first quarter of 2024, surpassing analyst expectations.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the company, said it “had a very strong start in 2024”.

It reported an 18% increase from product sales, spurred by a 26% jump for its oncology division.

AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM) operation also performed well, with 23% growth.

It said this was supported by high demand for its Farxiga drug, used for kidney disease and type 2 diabetes.

AstraZeneca also benefited from a 59% jump in sales from its partnered medicine business Alliance.

The company held its revenue guidance for the year as it highlighted a positive pipeline of new drugs and trials.

Mr Soriot added: “Our strong pipeline momentum continued and already this year we announced positive trial results for Imfinzi and Tagrisso that were unprecedented in lung cancer, the data from both of these studies will be presented during the ASCO plenary in June.

“We are also looking forward to seeing the results of several other important trials throughout the year.”

The update comes weeks after the company handed Mr Soriot an £18.7 million pay package despite a backlash from some investors.

Derren Nathan, head of equity research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “AstraZeneca has passed its first quarter health check with flying colours.

“Its drive to roll out next-generation cancer therapies is powering both revenue growth and clinical success.

“Pascal Soriot may have come under some fire later for his multi-million pay package, but for now there’s little faulting the direction of travel on which he has set AstraZeneca.”

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