Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has unveiled strong profit gains for last year, up 28% to just over 6.5 billion euros while sales increased by 11%. But it is predicting slower growth this year and will focus on strengthening its development of future drugs after several that it was working on had to be abandoned when they did not pan out. The company also announced plans to cut 3,000 workers, over 4.5% of its workforce as part of productivity improvements.
AstraZeneca is Europe’s fifth largest drug company with turnover last year of 20.5 billion euros. Ahead of it are Roche and Novartis of Switzerland, France’s Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline of the UK, which is the biggest. As well as being under pressure from insufficient new products coming through, AstraZeneca is facing competition from copycat versions of its medicines on which the patents have expired. It spent around 1.5 billion euros last year on acquisitions and experimental products.