AstraZeneca has laid out the long-term reasons why it is not interested in Pfizer's takeover and described how it hopes to be posting sales of $45.2 billion by 2023, double its estimates for 2017.
Chief executive Pascal Soriot said the firm is completing the transformation of the pipeline "and now has the right size, focus and team to deliver on one of the most exciting pipelines in the pharmaceutical industry". He added that the firm has sharpened its focus on five key growth platforms and made some optimistic sales forecasts.
For example, AstraZeneca is looking at revenues of $3.5 billion in 2023 for the antiplatelet drug Brilique/Brilinta (ticagrelor) based on accessing broader opportunities, while sales for its diabetes franchise should be in the region of $8 billion by them. The $45.2 million figure does not take into consideration of non risk-adjusted peak year sales estimates for key pipeline assets, notably MEDI4736, a PD-L1 immunotherapy. The cancer treatment on its own or in combinations, could have sales of $6.5 billion by 2023, the company says.
Dr Soriot (pictured) told reporters that the company's oncology pipeline has made "enormous progress" in the past 12-15 months, "better than we could have dreamed of". He added that the forecast for 2023 was not overly-optimistic, saying that "our independent strategy will create significant value for patients and our shareholders".
In responding to questions about Pfizer's approach, Dr Soriot acknowledged that in terms of shareholder reaction, "there is a range of opinions out there", but "the overall response is very supportive". He added that he will be speaking to stockholders in the next few days, "giving them more colour" about the company's long-term plans.
When asked by PharmaTimes whether AstraZeneca is considering some M&A of its own to help hit its revenue targets and perhaps throw a spanner in the works for Pfizer's bid, Dr Soriot said it was a possibility but "there are not so many opportunities out there at the right price".
He cited the deal recently struck to buy Bristol-Myers Squibb's share of the firm's global diabetes alliance as an example of a successful transaction "which was not disruptive". Dr Soriot added that while big mergers can sometimes work, they cause a lot of disruption which has a negative impact on the staff and the whole process of drug development.
Pfizer 'a praying mantis': Sir David Barnes
Meantime, one of Dr Soriot's predecessors, Sir David Barnes, has told the BBC that Pfizer would act like a "praying mantis" and "suck the lifeblood" out of AstraZeneca, if its bid succeeds.
Sir David, who was chief executive until 2000 and oversaw Zeneca's purchase of Astra, said "tax was one of the key drivers of the deal" rather than a long-term commitment to R&D and "that is a very narrow basis on which to base such a massive task". He went on to say that "past history of Pfizer has shown that they tend to extract destructive synergies, they have done that in the past".