Having suffered a series of late-stage setbacks, AstraZeneca expects to ink several agreements very soon that will boost its pipeline.

The claim comes from Martin Mackay, head of R&D at the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker who told the Financial Times he would be “personally disappointed” if a number of deals are not concluded by the end of the year. He said that could include partnerships with other big pharma, acquisitions of biotech companies and licensing deals.

Dr Mackay told the newspaper that despite the sudden departure of chief executive David Brennan, who will step down at the end of May, his research teams have remained “undistracted by recent events…I know we are doing the right things". He added that AstraZeneca may also look at “alternative forms of funding” with the likes of private equity firms, saying "the notion of working with people to share some risk and fund some programmes is natural for us”.

Since joining AstraZeneca from Pfizer in 2010, Dr Mackay has overseen a remodelling of R&D at AstraZeneca which has seen a lot of cutbacks on in-house activities. The FT notes that some 40% of the investigational drug portfolio has been axed, drugs which the research boss says were moving “too slowly or were the wrong target”.

Meantime, AstraZeneca is being mentioned as one of the suitors interested in acquiring diabetes specialist Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which recently was rumoured to have rejected a hostile bid from Bristol-Myers Squibb and hired Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to sound out potential buyers.