AstraZeneca’s published Q4 earnings have shown better than expected results, with new launches and commercial execution delivering full-year sales growth and a very strong final quarter.

Oncology sales increased by 50% in the 2018 financial year, or by $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter with Tagrisso (osimertinib) and Lynparza (olaparib) each doubling in sales, accompanied by a promising performance from Imfinzi (durvalumab).

Fasenra (benralizumab) sales reached $297 million (£231 million) in its first full year, performing exceptionally well in the countries where it was launched.

Significant developments in the late-stage pipeline included Lynparza’s regulatory approval (US) for ovarian cancer, PT010’s priority review for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Linzess' (linaclotide) regulatory approval (CN) for inflammatory bowel syndrome with constipation.

Overall revenue for the fourth quarter, including sales from selling assets and working with other companies to develop new products, was $6.42 billionn, better than analysts' estimates of $6.32 billion in a Bloomberg poll.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer, commenting on the results said:

“Closing the year with another strong quarter, our performance confirmed that AstraZeneca has returned to growth. Our new medicines performed particularly well across the therapy areas and the Emerging Markets business went from strength to strength.

“2019 will be a year of focus on continued pipeline delivery and flawless commercial execution. The performance of our new medicines demonstrated the ability of our commercial teams to convert the pipeline into successful medicines.”