AstraZeneca gains momentum

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Good afternoon,

After many setbacks, AstraZeneca is on a roll.

Two of its cancer drugs are moving toward blockbuster status, the Fierce Pharma website reported. One of the blockbusters, Lynparza, a drugdeveloped with Merck, is showing promise in fighting many types of cancer. (See story below).

The performance of those drugs and others led to stronger results in the first half for the Anglo-Swedish company, which at last report employed 1,500 in Delaware.

That’s a far cry from the peak Delaware employment figure of 4,000 or more. But AstraZeneca, under CEO Pascal Soriot, has steadied the ship here and elsewhere.

The companysigned a lease for office space in a portion of its former campus in Fairfaxthat is now being transformed into a mixed-use project. The company is hiring in Delaware for specialized positions.

Soriot sees even better times ahead. One strength is the company’s presence in China. Investors seem to be on board with his upbeat outlook, while the share pricehas been hovering near a five-year high, despite a choppy stock market.

Under Soriot, AstraZeneca, a mid-sized pharma company by world standards, decided to focus on a handful of areas including diabetes, cardiovascular, breathing disorders and cancer.

Things haven’t been smooth. Soriot appeared ready to jump ship not too long ago, after prevailing over a much larger Pfizer in a takeover battle.

Soriot is a modestly paid for a CEO, at least by international pharma company standards and the recent performance of AstraZenecamay lead to other companies wooing the Frenchman.

Having a headquarters in the UK is not ideal as the struggle continues for a graceful way to leave the European Union.

Speaking of headquarters space, an ambitious plan to build a head office and research center in the university town of Cambridge has been plagued by cost overruns and the firing of a contractor.

But momentum seems to be building and that’s not good news for Delaware.

Enjoy a more pleasant Thursday.

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