AstraZeneca new CEO gets started but profits fall again

AstraZeneca, which is based in the United Kingdom but has a big operation in Wilmington, said its third-quarter profit dropped more than 50 percent, indicating the challenge ahead for new chief executive officer Pascal Soriot.

"We are facing patent challenges for some products, but we have growth platforms," Soriot said in a conference call.

Soriot departed Roche and stepped into his new job on Oct. 1. He has said he will explain his grand plan for the company in the coming months.

The biggest component in the company's earning slide is the end of patent exclusivity of its blockbuster antipsychotic drug Seroquel. The patent expiration opened the market to generic competitors.

Sales of Seroquel IR were $1.034 billion in the third quarter of 2011, but fell to $169 million in the same period of 2012.

On August 8, AstraZeneca completed most of what will end up being a $7 billion deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb to acquire Amylin's diabetes products.

The company has cut its workforce in the last few years, with some of the cuts hitting AstraZeneca facilities in Wilmington and Newark, Del.

In its Thursday statement, the company said it took $253 million in restructuring charges in the third quarter and most of the $2.1 billion in charges will be taken in 2012.

Soriot was not specific, but said "business development," could be a way to improve the pipeline of drugs.

Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson has said that an acquisition might be necessary and Shire, Plc., is one possibility. Shire is also based in the UK, but its U.S. headquarters is in Chesterbrook.