AstraZeneca told journalists this morning that it remains confident of generating annual sales of more than $45 billion by 2023, through accelerating growth momentum across existing products and those waiting in the wings for market approval.

The five current growth platforms - Brilinta, diabetes, respiratory, Emerging Markets and Japan - now account for more than half of global revenues, while Oncology is set to become the sixth and is expected to contribute the largest proportion of pipeline-driven revenue growth in future, it said, helping to increase revenues by three quarters over the next decade.

Touting its independence, AZ noted that is has doubled the number of potential medicines in the late-stage pipeline since 2012, with 14 new molecular entities (NMEs) in Phase III or registration compared to the original target of eight, and that it is on track to return to growth by 2017. 

The early-stage pipeline has also grown rapidly through “a sharp focus on novel biology and technologies, providing a sustainable discovery engine behind all core therapeutic areas”, and in the next financial year 12-16 Phase II starts, 14-16 NME and major line extension regulatory submissions, and 8-10 NME and major line extension approvals, are expected.

Creating value

Expressing delight at the progress, AZ chief Pascal Soriot said the firm is “creating significant value for patients and shareholders” while “building a sustainable, more durable and profitable company”, reinforcing his belief in a standalone future.

Speculation is now rife over whether Pfizer will make a renewed bid for the firm when the current stay is lifted next week. AZ investor Neil Woodford believes the likelihood stands at around 50/50, but remains against the move.

At the time of drug giant’s initial approach “we strongly believed that an independent AstraZeneca would achieve far better returns for its shareholders than the offer from Pfizer could have delivered”, he said, adding “that remains the case, although six months on, our confidence in this belief is even stronger and the progress being made by the company is tangible”.