AstraZeneca chief under pressure

AstraZeneca and its chief executive officer are reportedly under increasing pressure from investors to boost the fortunes of the pharmaceutical manufacturer that is based in the United Kingdom and has its Americas headquarters in Wilmington. The company also has a plant in Newark, Del.

The Financial Times reported that some of the company's 20 biggest investors are, anonymously, making noise about replacing CEO David Brennan and finding a new strategy. The link to the story is here.

“You don’t need a lawyer or a marketing person. You either need Attila the Hun – a total butcher – to run it down until it can be bought, or a Paul Janssen-like figure: a successful scientist who can really take on the research team,” Bernstein Research analyst Jack Scannell said, according to the FT. A Bernstein Research note sent last month, said, “Our belief is that the status quo is not sustainable.”

AstraZeneca has had several rounds of layoffs in administrative and research divisions, but two of its biggest selling drugs, Nexium (ulcer treatments) and Seroquel (antipsychotic) are facing generic competition.

Brennan, at an industry gathering in Boston on Thursday, defended his strategy in an interview with Bloomberg. The link is here.

“I’m plugged in, my role hasn’t changed a bit,” Brennan said in the Bloomberg interview. “I read and hear and see lots of things, but we’re here trying to change policy, make good decisions and execute our strategy.”

Meanwhile, the company launched Dutoprol, which it says is the first and only once-daily anti-hypertensive tablet using the active ingredient of Toprol-XL. That drug was a frequently-prescribed drug for more than 20 years before generic competition took away market share.