AstraZeneca has this morning reported an 11% boost in operating profits to $2.5 billion, excluding the acquisition of MedImmune and restructuring costs, along with a 13% rise in adjusted second-quarter earnings per share as sales rose 6% to $7.3 billion. The UK giant also announced a big increase in its cost-cutting programme to deliver annual benefits to the tune of $900 million-plus by 2010.

Combined sales of five key growth products increased 15% in the first six months of the year, with Nexium (esomeprazole) up 4% to $2.6 billion, the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine) jumping 12% to $1.9 billion, Crestor (rosuvastatin) leaping 47% to $1.3 billion, Arimidex (anastrazole) for breast cancer moving upwards 12% to $831 million, and Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol) up 22% on the back of a recent US launch to $768 million.

Meanwhile, the firm also narrowed its 2007 underlying earnings forecast to between $3.90 and $4.05 from $3.80 to $4.05 previously.

More from AstraZeneca in tomorrow's edition of PharmaTimes World News.