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AstraZeneca plc
Type Public limited company
Traded as LSEAZN
Industry Pharmaceutical
Founded 6 April 1999
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Area served Global
Key people Leif Johansson (chairman)
Pascal Soriot (CEO)
Products Pharmaceutical products
Revenue US$25,711 million (2013)[1]
Operating income US$3,712 million (2013)[1]
Net income US$2,571 million (2013)[1]
Employees 50,000 (2014)[2]
Parent Investor AB(3.7%)

AstraZeneca plc[3] is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's seventh-largest pharmaceutical company measured by 2009 prescription drug sales (after Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi, and GlaxoSmithKline) and has operations in over 100 countries.[4] It has a portfolio of products for major disease areas including cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation.[5] The company was founded in 1999 through the merger of the Sweden-based Astra AB and the UK-based Zeneca Group.[6][7]

AstraZeneca has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It had a market capitalisation of approximately £39.5 billion as of 23 December 2011, the tenth-largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange.[8] It has secondary listings on the New York Stock Exchange and the OMX exchange.


Astra AB was founded in 1913 in Södertälje, Sweden, by 400 doctors and apothecaries.[9] In 1993 the British chemicals company ICI demerged its pharmaceuticals businesses and its agrochemicals and specialties businesses, to form Zeneca Group plc,.[10] Finally, in 1999 Astra and Zeneca Group merged to form AstraZeneca plc.[10] In 1999, AstraZeneca identified the "Fairfax-plus" site in North Wilmington, Delaware as the new location for the recently merged pharmaceutical company's US headquarters.[11]

On 3 January 2004 Dr Robert Nolan, the former director of AstraZeneca, formed the management team of ZI Medical.[12]

In 2005, the company announced that it had become a Diamond Member of the Pennsylvania Bio commerce organisation.[13] It also acquired KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, a UK biotech company, for £120m[14] and entered into an anti-cancer collaboration agreement with Astex.[15]

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

In February 2007, AstraZeneca agreed to buy Arrow Therapeutics, a company focused on the discovery and development of anti-viral therapies, for $150 million.[17]

AstraZeneca's pipeline, and "patent cliff", was the subject of much speculation in April 2007 leading to pipeline-boosting collaboration and acquisition activities.[18] A few days later AstraZeneca acquired American company MedImmune for about $15.2 billion to gain flu vaccines and an anti-viral treatment for infants[19]; AstraZeneca subsequently consolidated all of its biologics operations into a dedicated biologics division called MedImmune.[20]

In 2011, AstraZeneca acquired Guangdong BeiKang Pharmaceutical Company, a Chinese generics business.[21]

In February 2012, AstraZeneca and Amgen announced collaboration on treatments for inflammatory diseases.[22] Then in April 2012, AstraZeneca acquired Ardea Biosciences, another biotechnology company, for $1.26 billion.[23]

In June 2012, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a two-stage deal for the joint acquisition of the biotechnology company Amylin Pharmaceuticals.[24][25] It was agreed that Bristol-Myers Squibb would acquire Amylin for $5.3 billion in cash and the assumption of $1.7 billion in debt, with AstraZeneca then paying $3.4 billion in cash to Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Amylin being folded into an existing diabetes joint-venture between AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb.[25]

In March 2013, AstraZeneca said it will cut 2,300 jobs as part of a restructuring of its business.[26]

In October 2013, AstraZeneca announced it would acquire biotech company Spirogen for around $440 million.[27]


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

AstraZeneca has its corporate headquarters in London, United Kingdom, and its research and development (R&D) headquarters are in Södertälje, Sweden. The company employs over 11,000 people at research facilities in the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, France, Canada, India, China, Brazil and Japan.

The company's largest single research and development site is at Alderley Park (a large country estate on the east side of the A34 road north of the Monk's Heath crossroads) in Cheshire, England. Around 4,500 staff are based at the site.[28]

The company has a major research and development presence in Sweden, with approximately 4,000 staff employed at research facilities in Mölndal and Södertälje.[29]


AstraZeneca specialises in prescription medicines to fight disease in several therapeutic areas. The following is a list of key products found on the AstraZeneca website.[30] Generic- drug names are given in parentheses following the brand name.




  • Byetta and Bydureon (Exenatide)
  • Onglyza (Saxagliptin)
  • Forxiga (dapagliflozin)
  • Kombiglyze™ XR (saxagliptin and metformin HCl extended release)
  • Komboglyze™ (saxagliptin and metformin HCl)
  • Symlin® (pramlintide acetate)
  • Xigduo™ (dapagliflozin and metformin HCl),


– Infection



-Respiratory and Inflammation

Under development[edit]

Senior management[edit]

The senior executive team is composed of David Brennan, Simon Lowth, John Patterson, Tony Zook, David Mott, Bruno Angelici, Lynn Tetrault and David Smith. As of 2008, Brennan is paid $1,574,144 for his role as chief executive officer.[31]

On 26 April 2012, it was announced that David Brennan was to retire early in the June of that year[32]

It was also announced that Leif Johansson will succeed Louis Schweitzer as Non-Executive chairman on 1 June 2012 – three months earlier than previously announced – and will become Chairman of the Nomination and Governance Committee after (the 2012) Annual General Meeting."[32]

Non-executive directors include Graham Chipchase, chief executive of Rexam plc.


Seroquel: adverse effects and trial procedures[edit]

AstraZeneca has stated that the atypical-antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, is the subject of four class-action lawsuits in Canada. Also, in the United States, there were multiple product-liability cases alleging personal injury, namely, that Seroquel causes people to develop diabetes. The company has indicated its intention to seek further regulatory approval for Seroquel to treat additional psychiatric conditions such as depression and general anxiety disorder.[33]

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.[34]

In 2002, its drug Iressa was approved in Japan as monotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer.[35] 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 36 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.[36]

In April 2010 AstraZeneca settled a qui tam lawsuit brought by Stefan P. Kruszewski for $520 million to settle allegations that the company defrauded Medicare, Medcaid, and other government-funded health care programs in connection with its marketing and promotional practices for the blockbuster atypical antipsychotic, Seroquel.[37]

In March 2011, AstraZeneca settled a lawsuit in the United States totalling $68.5 million to be divided up to 38 states.[38] Claims were made against AstraZeneca that it promoted Seroquel's use in children and adolescents long before establishing that it was safe or effective for any use in this population. Furthermore, it was found that patients experienced very serious side effects, including weight gain, diabetes and heart problems. AstraZeneca has been caught in a number of lawsuits stemming from deceptive and unfair promotion of Seroquel, and this is not the first series of settlements.[39]

MedImmune takeover[edit]

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.[40] AstraZeneca consolidated its biologics portfolio in MedImmune and Cambridge Antibody Technology (acquired in 2007).[41] This biologics portfolio was then rebranded to create a dedicated, global biologics organisation known as 'MedImmune'. Amid allegations of broken promises over this consolidation,[41] AstraZeneca presented the new MedImmune to investors on 7 December 2007.[20]


The company's most commercially-successful medication is esomeprazole. 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.[42] 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.[43]

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.[44]

Corporate sexual harassment[edit]

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.[45]

Astra USA agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by at least 79 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.[46]

Bildman fraud[edit]

On 4 February 1998, Astra USA sued Lars Bildman, its former president and chief executive officer, seeking $15 million for defrauding the company.[47] 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. This was in a last-ditch effort to distract attention from the real wrongdoer, Bildman himself." Bildman had already plead guilty in US 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[edit]

In 2008 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to a German virologist, Harald zur Hausen, for his research on the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The Swedish police's anticorruption unit decided to investigate as AstraZeneca, which has a stake in two lucrative HPV vaccines and thus stood to gain financially from the prize, had agreed to sponsor Nobel Media and Nobel Web. Investigations were focused on whether AstraZeneca could have exerted undue influence on the award. According to Times Online, two senior figures in the process that chose zur Hausen also had strong links with AstraZeneca.[48]

Transfer mispricing[edit]

In 2010 AstraZeneca agreed to pay £505 million to settle a UK tax dispute related to transfer mispricing.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Preliminary Results 2013
  2. ^ "Key facts". AstraZeneca. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Standard practice is that the name be pronounced as "Astra Zeneca" rather than "Astrazeneca"
  4. ^ "The 20 largest pharmaceutical companies". Reuters. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  5. ^ About us
  6. ^ "Global 500 – Pharmaceuticals". Fortune. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  7. ^ "Key facts". AstraZeneca. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "FTSE All-Share Index Ranking". Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Organizational Portraits – AstraZeneca". The Pharmaceutical Century: Ten Decades of Drug Discovery. Washington, D.C.: ACS Publications. 17 November 2000. Retrieved 14 July 2008. 
  10. ^ a b AstraZeneca US History
  11. ^ "AstraZeneca Selects Wilmington, Del. for New US Headquarters". 
  12. ^ "ZI is dripping with promise". 
  13. ^ "Pennsylvania Bio – Member Listings". Pennsylvania Bio web site. Archived from the original on 14 December 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2005. 
  14. ^ AstraZeneca buys biotech company for £120m The Telegraph, 23 December 2005
  15. ^ AstraZeneca and Astex ally for anticancer agents Business Intelligence, 1 July 2005
  16. ^ AstraZeneca to buy CAT for £702m BBC News, 15 May 2006
  17. ^ AstraZeneca agrees to buy Arrow Therapeutics for $150 mln Marketwatch, 1 February 2007
  18. ^ AstraZeneca seeks a remedy for its patent pain The Telegraph, 21 April 2012
  19. ^ "AstraZeneca to pay $15.2B to purchase rival MedImmune; Deal sees London-based drugmaker take on debt for the first time in order to fill product line". Bloomberg. 
  20. ^ a b AstraZeneca Buys MedImmune for $15.6 Billion The New York Times, 24 April 2007
  21. ^ AstraZeneca to buy Chinese generics firm Healthcare News, 8 December 2011
  22. ^ AstraZeneca and Amgen collaborate on treatments for inflammatory diseases Medcity News, 4 February 2012
  23. ^ AstraZeneca Reaches $1.26 Billion Deal for Ardea Biosciences The New York Times, 23 April 2012
  24. ^ Peacock, Louisa (30 June 2012). "AstraZeneca to pay £2.2bn towards 'joint venture' diabetes deal". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Bristol-Myers to buy Amylin for about $5.3 billion". Reuters. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  26. ^ "AstraZeneca to cut 2,300 more jobs". USA Today. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  27. ^ Sandle, Paul (15 October 2013). "AstraZeneca buys oncology-focused Spirogen for up to $440 million". Reuters. 
  28. ^ "Alderley Park". AstraZeneca United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 August 2010. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Research". AstraZeneca Sweden. Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  30. ^ AstraZeneca UK website. Retrieved 27 March 2005
  31. ^ "Executive directors' salaries 2009". Remuneration Report – AstraZeneca Annual Report 2008. AstraZeneca. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  32. ^ a b AstraZeneca boss David Brennan quits under pressure from investors The Guardian, 26 April 2012
  33. ^ "AstraZeneca Pipeline Summary February 2008". AstraZeneca Corporate Website. Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2008. 
  34. ^ Seroquel Sustained Release Schizophrenia Data Presented at ECP Congress in Madrid Canada Newswire, 18 March 2007
  35. ^ "AstraZeneca's Iressa FDA committee judgement expected tomorrow". 23 September 2002. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  36. ^ Test results take precedence over ethics Svenska Dagbladet, 29 March 2009
  37. ^ Pharmaceutical Giant AstraZeneca to Pay $520 Million for Off-label Drug Marketing U.S. Department of Justice, 27 April 2010
  38. ^ "Drugmaker settles lawsuits over Seroquel". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  39. ^ Seroquel Diabetes settlements now total $350m About Law Suits, 18 February 2011
  40. ^ AstraZeneca's big, risky $15 billion bet CNN, 23 April 2007
  41. ^ a b AstraZeneca faces patent battle on No 3 drug as profits tumble The Times, 2 November 2007
  42. ^ United States Patent 5,877,192 USPTO Patent Database, 11 April 1997
  43. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm (25 October 2004). "High Prices: How to think about prescription drugs". The New Yorker.
  44. ^ 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 August 2007 issue of Stern (Germany; pp. 100–107). Available as an e-paper here
  45. ^ Aftershocks are rumbling through Astra Business Week, 20 May 1996
  46. ^ David Brennan, chief executive of Astra Zeneca The Times, 18 October 2009
  47. ^ Astra hauls ex-CEO Lars Bildman into court Business Week, 4 February 1998
  48. ^ The Times, 19 December 2008. "AstraZeneca row as corruption claims engulf Nobel prize"
  49. ^ AstraZeneca agrees to pay £505m to settle UK tax dispute, The Guardian 23 February 2010

External links[edit]