AstraZeneca has this morning posted a strong set of financials for the second quarter, boosted by strong sales of the cholesterol-lowerer Crestor and the blood pressure drug Toprol XL.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has posted a 9% rise in sales (at constant exchange rates) to $7.96 billion, while operating profit was up 37% to $3.61 billion, helped by operational efficiencies. However the rise was mainly due to sales of Crestor (rosuvastatin) which increased 33% to $1.13 billion.

In the USA, Crestor sales were up 32% to $547 million, and total prescriptions increased 25%, nearly four times the statin market growth, AstraZeneca noted, and “keeping pace with the 26% growth for generic simvastatin. Also impressive were sales for Toprol XL/Seloken (metoprolol), up 112% to $417 million, and up 320% in the USA, including the company’s authorised generic to $298 million. The leap was due to the withdrawal of two copycat products from the market across the pond.

As for AstraZeneca’s other products, revenues for the antiulcerant blockbuster Nexium (esomeprazole) were up 1% to $1.25 billion, while the asthma combo Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol) increased 24% to $551 million. Sales of the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine) rose 18% to $1.25 billion.

Turnover of the breast cancer drug Arimidex (anastrozole) were up 7% to $483 million, while generic competition to Casodex (bicalutamide) saw the drug fall 29% to $245 million.

Chief executive David Brennan said the performance, “in the context of tough global economic conditions, has been better than we anticipated”. He added that the second quarter saw continued progress on the pipeline, as evidenced by “significant regulatory submissions and approvals” and he noted that AstraZeneca’s full-year target for core earnings per share has been increased to $5.70-$6.00 from $5.15-$5.45.

Mr Brennan’s enthusiasm is shared by investors and at 11.30 (UK time), AstraZeneca’s shares were up 2.3% to £28.69.