AstraZeneca: Wikis


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AstraZeneca plc
Type Public company
Founded 6 April 1999 by merger
Headquarters London, England, UK
Key people Louis Schweitzer, Chairman
David R. Brennan, Chief Executive Officer
Industry Pharmaceutical
Products Pharmaceutical products for humans
Revenue $32,804 million (2009)[1]
Operating income $11,543 billion (2009)[1]
Net income $7,544 billion (2009)[1]
Employees 65,000 (2010)[2]

AstraZeneca plc[3] (LSE: AZN, NYSEAZN, OMXAZN) is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company formed on 6 April 1999 by the remerger of Swedish Astra AB and British Zeneca Group plc. Zeneca had been part of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), as three divisions that were spun off from ICI on 1 June 1993.[4][5] It is a public company and is listed on the London Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange and the OMX exchange. It is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The company has its head office in the City of Westminster, London.[6][7][8]



The company's origins date from 1912, when Atlas Chemical Industries was founded by demerger from DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, in 1912. Subsequently, Atlas Chemical Industries acquired Stuart Pharmaceuticals (founded by Arthur Hanisch in Pasadena, California, U.S., in 1941) in 1961 before itself being bought by ICI in 1972. In 1993 ICI demerged this pharmaceuticals business, as well as its agrochemicals and specialties businesses, to form Zeneca Group plc.[9]

Astra AB was founded in 1913 by 400 doctors and apothecaries in Södertälje, Sweden.[10] In 1949 the company developed Xylocaine, a local anesthetic. In 1994 the company formed a joint venture with Merck to market Losec, an ulcer-treatment drug.[9]

In 1999 Astra AB and Zeneca Group plc merged to form AstraZeneca plc.[9]

In 2005 the company announced an arrangement with Astex for the discovery, development and commercialisation of novel small molecule inhibitors of protein kinase B for use as anti-cancer agents.[11] In the same year it announced a collaboration with Avanir for research and licensing in the area of Reverse Cholesterol Transport (RCT) enhancing compounds for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.[12] It also announced an alliance with Schering AG for research and licensing in the area of selective glucocorticoid receptor agonists (SEGRAs).[13] It also announced that it had become a Diamond Member of the Pennsylvania Bio commerce organization.[14]

In 2006, following a collaborative relationship begun in 2004[15], AstraZeneca acquired Cambridge Antibody Technology[16][17] in a deal worth £702 million.

Also in 2006 it formed an alliance with Abbott Laboratories in relation to Crestor and TriCor, commencing that year and extending to at least 2009.[18]

In 2007 it reported that it had entered into an alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb to form a global collaboration to develop and commercialise two investigational drugs (saxagliptin and dapagliflozin) beginning from 2007.[19]

Also in 2007 AstraZeneca acquired MedImmune for about $15.2 billion[20]. AstraZeneca consolidated its biologics portfolio in MedImmune and Cambridge Antibody Technology which was rebranded to create a dedicated biologics division known as 'MedImmune'[21].


AstraZeneca develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceuticals to treat disorders in the gastrointestinal, cardiac and vascular, neurological and psychiatric, infection, respiratory, pathological inflammation and oncology areas.

The corporate headquarters are in London, United Kingdom, the research and development (R&D) headquarters are in Södertälje. Major R&D centres are located in India, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. AstraZeneca has a large R&D centre in Cheshire, U.K.; this centre acts as one of Zeneca's main hubs.

AstraZeneca has laboratories in a large country estate on the east side of the A34 road north of the Monk's Heath crossroads in Cheshire in England.


AstraZeneca specialises in prescription medicines to fight disease in several therapeutic areas. Year-on sales information can be found through AstraZeneca annual reports.[22] The following is a list of key products found on the AstraZeneca website.[23] Generic- drug names are given in parentheses following the brand name.

- Anaesthetics



- Infection



-Respiratory and Inflammation


Seroquel: adverse effects and trial procedures

AstraZeneca has stated that the atypical-antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, is the subject of four class-action lawsuits in Canada. Also, in the U.S., there were multiple product-liability cases alleging personal injury, namely, that Seroquel caused people to develop diabetes.

The company has indicated its intention to seek approval for Seroquel to treat psychiatric conditions such as depression and general anxiety disorder.[24]

Note as well that scientific findings regarding a new sustained-release form of the drug were announced at a conference in Madrid, Spain, in March 2007. At the time the data regarding the new drug were discussed, the drug had not been approved for sale by any health regulatory body in any country.[25]

During 2005 and 2006 clinical trials were carried out to examine the possibilities of further development of Seroquel. Test persons were recruited from research centres in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria and India. As part of the trials half of the test persons were given a placebo and stopped their medication. As a result thirty-six test persons relapsed into illness. One test person committed suicide, possibly as a result of quitting his medication. AstraZeneca denied that the suicide was related to the testing procedures. Ethical concerns were raised over the issue of carrying out trials in less-developed countries because of lower requirements for getting trials approved and overall lower trial costs.

In 2008, 45% of the test persons in AstraZeneca medical trials came from Asia; Eastern- and Central Europe; and South America. The same year 13.5% of the total sales were made in these regions. In contrast 86% of total sales were made in Japan, North America and Western Europe.[26][27]

Late-stage trial failures

AstraZeneca has experienced a run of failures of drugs in late-stage clinical trials.[28] These include Galida for diabetes, Exanta to prevent thrombosis, NXY-059[29] for acute ischemic stroke, Iressa for lung cancer, and AGI-1067 for prevention of atherosclerosis. With patents expiring on older drugs, this threatens future revenue growth.

MedImmune takeover

After this long run of failed late-stage clinical trials, on 19 June 2007 AstraZeneca completed the acquisition of vaccine maker MedImmune, paying $15.2 billion primarily for its drug-development pipeline. Analysts have criticised this take-over, claiming that AstraZeneca paid too much[30]. AstraZeneca consolidated its biologics portfolio in MedImmune and Cambridge Antibody Technology (acquired in 2007)[31] and this biologics portfolio was rebranded to create a dedicated, global biologics organisation known as 'MedImmune'. Amid allegations of broken promises over this consolidation[31], AstraZeneca presented the new MedImmune to investors on 7 December 2007[21].


The company's most successful medication is omeprazole. When it is manufactured the result is a mixture of two mirror-imaged molecules, R and S. Both are converted to the same active molecule in the body. Two years before the omeprazole patent expired AstraZeneca patented S-omeprazole in pure form, pointing that since some people metabolise R-omeprazole slowly, pure S-omeprazole treatment would give higher dose efficiency and less interindividual variation.[32] The company marketed Nexium, as it would a brand new drug. This practice is criticised because it maintains the profits of drug companies at the expense of patients and public healthcare systems.[33]

On 16 August, 2007, Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and a lecturer in social medicine at the Harvard Medical School, alleged in Stern, a German language, weekly newsmagazine, that AstraZeneca's scientists had doctored their research on the drug's efficiency:

Instead of using presumably comparable doses [of each drug], the company's scientists used Nexium in higher dosages. They compared 20 and 40mg Nexium with 20mg Prilosec. With the cards having been marked in that way, Nexium looked like an improvement- which however was only small and shown in only two of the three studies.

Nexium is also alleged by the authors to be "the top of the list" of medications which are marketed by pharmaceutical companies directly to doctors, who receive gifts of money and/or goods when they prescribe the medication in question. As a reason for the company's behaviour, it is alleged that the German public healthcare system spends an additional $139.50 million at time of reporting--> per annum on Nexium as compared to using omeprazole, which however would be less profitable for the company as its patent protection has expired.[34]

Malaria drugs

Chloroquine and Paludrine were marketed with diminutive vague health warnings inside the boxes. Rather than specifying "depression", Zeneca used the term "changes in mood". Also "panic attacks and anxiety" were not mentioned, only "fits and seizures", in effect hiding information about mental effects, as it was more widely reported. As a result of these understatements, thousands of people went on holiday carrying up to 365 days dosage of these drugs, without any understanding that if they were experiencing black moods after a couple of months, the medication should be discontinued. In 1998 the University of Edinburgh department of tropical medicine conducted a study on over 100 gap-year students that had been abroad. It found that 31.8% of them that had taken the antiprophylactics for over three months complained of depression compared to 12.4% of students that had taken a holiday but not taken chloroquine or Paludrine at all. Neither Zeneca nor the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) replied to the findings of the study. The conclusion of the study was that chloroquine and Paludrine cause a slow and gradual depression, and that the NHS were widely prescribing double dosages of the drug without any health warnings.

Corporate sexual harassment

Confronted by allegations in a 13 May 1996, Business Week cover story, of widespread sexual harassment and other abuses, Astra USA Inc. suspended three top executives and launched an internal probe.[35]

On 26 June, the parent company announced that it had fired Lars Bildman, Astra USA's president and chief executive officer, without severance pay. Carl-Gustav Johansson, an Astra executive vice-president, says the investigation found that Bildman had "exhibited inappropriate behavior at company functions" and had "abused his power." He was also accused of misappropriation of funds, diverting them for personal expenses such as "lavish trips" and "extensive renovations for his home." Another suspended executive, George Roadman, was also fired, while a third, Edward Aarons, resigned. A senior executive in Sweden, Anders Lonner, was asked to resign for failing to report the misconduct to superiors, Astra says.[citation needed]

Astra USA agreed to pay $9.85 million to settle a lawsuit brought by at least seventy-nine women and one man against the company. The suit accused Astra's former president and other executives of pressuring female employees for sex and replacing older workers with younger, more attractive women. It was the biggest sexual harassment settlement ever obtained by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Bildman fraud

On 4 February 1998, Astra USA sued Bildman, its former president and chief executive officer, seeking $15 million for defrauding the company.[36] The sum included $2.3 million in company funds he allegedly used to fix up three of his homes, plus money the company paid as the result of the EEOC investigation. Astra's lawsuit alleged Bildman sexually harassed and intimidated employees, used company funds for yachts and prostitutes, destroyed documents and records, and concocted "tales of conspiracy involving ex-KGB agents and competitors … in a last-ditch effort to distract attention from the real wrongdoer, Bildman himself." Bildman had already plead guilty in U.S. District Court for failing to report more than $1 million in income on his tax returns; in addition, several female co-workers filed personal sexual-harassment lawsuits.

Nobel Prize investigation 2008

In 2008, the Nobel Prize in Medicine for cancer-related research on human papillomavirus (HPV) by Harald zur Hausen was being looked into by the Swedish police anticorruption unit. The reason was that AstraZeneca, which has a stake in two lucrative HPV vaccines and thus stands to gain financially from the prize, had agreed to sponsor Nobel Media and Nobel Web. According to Times Online, two senior figures in the process that chose zur Hausen also had strong links with AstraZeneca.[37]

Transfer mispricing

In 2010, AstraZeneca agreed to pay £505m to settle UK tax dispute, relating to transfer mispricing.[38]

Senior management

The senior executive team is composed of David Brennan, Simon Lowth, John Patterson, Tony Zook, David Mott, Bruno Angelici, Lynn Tetrault, Jan Lundberg and David Smith.

Brennan is paid $1,574,144 for his role as chief executive officer.[39]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Preliminary Results 2009
  2. ^ About us
  3. ^ Standard practice is that the name be pronounced as "Astra Zeneca" rather than "Astrazeneca"
  4. ^ AstraZeneca - History, merger of Astra AB and Zeneca Group plc Retrieved 2005-03-20
  5. ^ AstraZeneca: Merger partners in brief Retrieved 2005-03-20
  6. ^ "Legal Notice." AstraZeneca. Retrieved on 12 March 2010.
  7. ^ "United Kingdom." AstraZeneca. Retrieved on 12 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Maps." City of Westminster. Retrieved on 28 August 2009.
  9. ^ a b c AstraZeneca US History
  10. ^ "Organizational Portraits - AstraZeneca". The Pharmaceutical Century: Ten Decades of Drug Discovery. Washington, DC: ACS Publications. 17 November 2000. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  11. ^ Press release, 27 July 2005
  12. ^ Press release, 11 July 2005
  13. ^ Press release, 27 July 2005
  14. ^ "Pennsylvania Bio - Member Listings". Pennsylvania Bio web site. Retrieved 8 October 2005. 
  15. ^ AstraZenica and Cambridge Antibody Technology announce major strategic alliance to discover and develop human antibody therapeutics in inflammatory disorder
  16. ^ Recommended Cash Offer by AstraZeneca UK Limited for Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc Offer Declared Unconditional and Initial Offer Period Extended
  17. ^ AstraZeneca UK Limited Completes Acquisition of Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc Compulsory Acquisition Procedure Completed Subsequent Offer Period Closed
  18. ^ Press release, 5 July 2006
  19. ^ Press Release 11 January 2007
  20. ^ AstraZeneca Successfully Completes Acquisition of MedImmune
  21. ^ a b AstraZeneca Presents its Global Biologics Organisation, MedImmune, at 2007 Analyst and Investor R&D Day
  22. ^ AstraZeneca annual reports
  23. ^ AstraZeneca UK website, retrieved 2005-03-27
  24. ^ "AstraZeneca Pipeline Summary February 2008". AstraZeneca Corporate Website. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  25. ^ Seroquel Sustained Release Schizophrenia Data Presented at ECP Congress in Madrid
  26. ^ Retrieved from Swedish Public Radio (SR) homepage on 2009-03-27
  27. ^ Svenska Dagbladet Homepage. Published and retrieved on 2009-03-29.
  28. ^ AstraZeneca, struggling to develop new medicines, agrees to buy MedImmune
  29. ^ Once-Promising Stroke Drug Fails in Trial
  30. ^ AstraZeneca's big, risky $15 billion bet
  31. ^ a b AstraZeneca faces patent battle on No 3 drug as profits tumble
  32. ^ United States Patent 5,877,192
  33. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm (25 October 2004). "High Prices: How to think about prescription drugs". The New Yorker.
  34. ^ Grill, Markus and Hansen, Hans (2007): "Vorsicht, Pharma! Wie die Industrie Ärzte manipuliert und Patienten täuscht." ('Caution, Pharma! How the industry manipulates physicians and deceives patients.') Published in the 16.08.2007 issue of Stern (Germany; pp. 100-107). Available as an e-paper here
  35. ^ Business Week
  36. ^ Business Week
  37. ^ Times Online December 19, 2008: AstraZeneca row as corruption claims engulf Nobel prize
  38. ^ AstraZeneca agrees to pay £505m to settle UK tax dispute
  39. ^ "Executive directors' salaries 2009". Remuneration Report - AstraZeneca Annual Report 2008. AstraZeneca. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 

External links

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