AstraZeneca has reported a 5% fall in core operating profit for the first quarter to $3.68 billion this morning, though earnings per share were up 10% to $2.23, boosted by a previously-announced tax deal.

Revenues fell 3% to $8.29 billion, driven again by the continued strong performance of Crestor (rosuvastatin). Sales of the cholesterol drug increased 14% to $1.48 billion and in the USA, Crestor total prescriptions increased 12%, nearly five times the percentage growth for the US statin market as a whole. Other big earners were the asthma combo Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol), which rose 7% to $752 million, and while the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine) fell 4% to $1.00 billion, the franchise was boosted by the performance of Seoquel XR (up 32% to $339 million).

Sales for Toprol XL/Seloken (metoprolol) were down 33% to $245 million, hit by generic competition, while revenues for the antiulcerant blockbuster Nexium (esomeprazole) fell 6% to $1.16 billion. Losec/Prilosec (omeprazole) brought in $235 million, down 6%.

As for oncology sales, Arimidex (anastrozole) fell 54% to $233 million, hit by patent expiries, while Casodex (bicalutamide) fell 7% to $133 million. Zoladex (goserelin) brought in $275 million (+4%), while Iressa (gefitinib) climbed 46% to $121 million.

Chief executive David Brennan said the anticipated generic competition in the USA (where sales fell 11%) and Western Europe (-7%) was partially mitigated by a 13% sales rise in the emerging markets to over $1.43 billion. 

The aforementioned tax settlement boost with US and UK authorities, announced last month, saw AstraZeneca raise its full-year EPS forecast to $6.90-7.20, up from the $6.45-$6.75 previously. That has been lifted again to $6.95-7.25.