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AstraZeneca announces new anti-obesity drug deal and positive profit

AstraZeneca facility for biological medicines in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, Sweden.
AstraZeneca facility for biological medicines in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, Sweden. Copyright JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP
Copyright JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP
By Heloise UrvoyEuronews
Published on Updated
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AstraZeneca's share price climbed on Thursday after it announced a multi-billion dollar deal with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Eccogene to produce a new anti-diabetes and obesity drug.

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In an investor update, the multinational pharmaceutical group also posted total revenue of $33.8bn for the first nine months of 2023, up 5%, despite a sharp decline in Covid-19 vaccine sales.

AstraZeneca, which became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic when it produced one of the first vaccines to be approved on the market, said, however, that sales of it had declined by close to $2.9bn since the start of January through to the end of September, as demand for it dropped.

However, strong results in other categories still enabled the Anglo-Swedish company to post a positive growth trajectory in the third quarter (Q3) with total revenue from non‑Covid-19 medicines up 13% compared to last year.

“Given the momentum in the year to date we have increased our full-year guidance for total revenue excluding Covid medicines as well as for Core EPS,” Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer at AstraZeneca, said in a statement.

AstraZeneca also announced further plans to invest in its cancer medicines research and development (R&D).

“Our portfolio of bispecifics has the potential to replace the first generation checkpoint inhibitors across a range of cancers,” Soriot also highlighted.

He added that the company launched the phase 3 trial of high-potential molecules in Q3, that could see a new oncology medicine approved on the market soon.

Soriot also noted the agreement signed with Chinese pharmaceutical company Eccogene, to develop a drug using a specific molecule which “could offer an important advance, as both a monotherapy and in combinations, for the estimated one billion people living with cardiometabolic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and obesity”.

New obesity and diabetes drug

AstraZeneca is paying $185m upfront to its new Chinese partner, as the agreement paves the way for more R&D towards a new once-daily oral drug.

The small molecule in question in the deal is known as ECC5004. It works as a receptor agonist, triggering a biological response in the brain or cells. Developing an oral drug would be a game-changer, as it is so far only available in the form of injections.

The deal, which was made public on Thursday, provides that AstraZeneca will pay $1.825bn to Eccogene “in future clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones”.

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