AstraZeneca warns on ‘unfavourable impact’ from coronavirus outbreak

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has warned that the impact from the coronavirus outbreak will hit the business for “up to a few months”, making projections for the year ahead tricky, the company said.

Bosses said the virus, called Covid-19, could particularly hit their business over rivals because China, which first reported the outbreak, is the firm’s fastest-growing market.

Revenues are expected to grow by high single digits or low double digits, but these could change, AstraZeneca said.

The firm added: “All guidance assumes an unfavourable impact from China lasting up to a few months as a result of the recent novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

“The company will monitor closely the development of the epidemic and anticipates providing an update at the time of the (first-quarter) results.”

The warning came following a 15% rise in sales during the year to 23.5 billion dollars (£18 billion) – including a 35% sales boost in China alone.

However, sales slowed in the final quarter of the year, rising just 9% compared with an 18% rise in the third quarter.

Bosses at the Cambridge-based business added that sales in its three therapy areas of oncology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM) and respiratory grew during the year by 44%, 9% and 10% respectively.

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said: “Results from our new medicines and emerging markets accompanied positive news for patients, most recently including regulatory approvals of Enhertu in breast cancer and Calquence in leukaemia.

“Our collaborations also progressed at pace, including that with Daiichi Sankyo, while there were several regulatory approvals for new medicines in China at the end of the year, such as Lynparza in first-line ovarian cancer.”