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AstraZeneca: Living Down to its Reputation

Jeff Bailey

Poor AstraZeneca (AZN), the wrong-footed pharmaceutical maker, seems to have another costly drug-development failure on its hands. The company’s rheumatoid arthritis pill, Fostamatinib (catchy name, eh?) performed poorly in a clinical trial and mightn’t be able to grab a piece of the $20 billion-a-year RA market.

As Reuters reported, the AstraZeneca drug didn’t beat existing RA drugs in efficacy, and it had some unpleasant side effects.

Abbvie’s (ABBV) Humira and two competing RA injectable drugs are already all multi-billion dollar sellers, and other pill-form drugs are headed to market.

AstraZeneca has been a R&D train wreck in recent years, piling up the worst record among major pharma companies, in terms of overall R&D money spent for each approved new drug, according to this brilliant Forbes piece by Matthew Herper.

As seen in a stock chart, the lab missteps have resulted in a stock-price decline, low valuation in terms of PE ratio, and recently falling revenue as AstraZeneca faces patent expirations on existing medicines and hasn’t developed enough new drugs.

AZN Chart

Jeff Bailey, The Editor of YCharts, is a former reporter, editor and columnist at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He can be reached at editor@ycharts.com.

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