AstraZeneca still being hammered by patent expirations

AstraZeneca – The world's fifth-largest pharma was formed in 1993 through a merger. Its market cap is £36.4 billion, and it has a global workforce of 52,700. AstraZeneca operates the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, which provides free housing to cancer patients being treated in the Philadelphia area.

British-based drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc, which has its regional headquarters in Wilmington, said Thursday morning that revenue and profit declined for 2012 and would do so again in 2013.

The company said in a statement that it expected sales revenue in 2013 to decline in the "mid-to-high single digits," using constant currency exchange rates. With operating costs likely to be slightly higher, the earnings per share will decline by more than that.

The company did not announce any further layoffs, having reduced its workforce several times in the last couple years.

AstraZeneca released its 2012 fourth quarter and full-year results before the stock market opened Thursday morning in London and chief executive officer Pascal Soriot spoke with reporters on a conference call.

"Our results in 2012 reflect a period of severe patent expiration," Soriot said.

When drugs lose market exclusivity brought on by a patent, generic competitors enter the market with products at much lower costs, resulting in revenue losses for the branded-drug company.

AstraZeneca's full-year revenue fell from $33.59 billion in 2011 to $27.97 billion in 2012, with net profit falling from $10.02 billion to $6.30 billion in the same period.

By the company's math, patent expiration in various parts of the world for four drugs - Seroquel IR, Atacand, Nexium, Merrem - accounted for 85 percent of the revenue decline.

The company's press release, with the numbers, is here.