AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot says the company has recovered from the series of late-stage failures suffered in the last few years.

Speaking at the FT Global Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology conference in London, Mr Soriot, who has held the top job for just over a year, denied the claim that he took on a demoralised organisation. He preferred to say staff had been "disorientated" as "it is hard to take setback after setback", adding that it was necessary to rebuild confidence.

Mr Soriot (pictured) said that AstraZeneca had become "too complicated" and he has set out to simplify the organisation. Part of this will see the firm build a global R&D centre in Cambridge, a move which "brings us closer to science", and he said he was happy with the firm's portfolio, 50% of which consists of biologics. Mr Soriot also made special mention of the firm's investigatenal immunotherapeutics, which could represent the future for cancer treatment.  

The AstraZeneca boss was asked about MedImmune, the firm's biologics arm bought for an eye-watering $15.6 billion five years ago. He said he did not agree with the argument that AstraZeneca overpaid, saying it will take ten years to propery judge the success or otherwise of the purchase, i.e. in 2018.

In terms of acquisition strategy, Mr Soriot added that the firm will keep looking at bolt-on deals. However the Financial Times has reported that a bid in the region of $15 billion could be in the offing for Forest Laboratories.

AZ awarded $76 million in Prilosec patent case

Staying with AstraZeneca, a judge in the USA has awarded the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker $76 million in damages to be paid by Apotex for infringing patents on the stomach acid drug  Prilosec (omeprazole).

The sum equates to around 50% of Apotex earnings from its generic version of the drug between 2004 and 2007. This follows a previous ruling that found two Prilosec formulation patents were valid and infringed by Apotex.

Signs brain pact with Lieber

AstraZeneca has also announced a two-year neuroscience collaboration with the USA's Lieber Institute for Brain Development to use genetics and stem cell biology to discover new drugs for  disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
The collaboration will see AstraZeneca neuroscientists work with Lieber researchers to identify and validate new targets "and enhance approaches in patient segmentation to support new drug development". Researchers will have access to more than 1,000 post-mortem brain samples, DNA samples and brain imaging data from patients, family members and control volunteers.