AstraZeneca plc

Stock Exchange: XLON • Ticker: AZN • HQ: London, UK • Employees: 61,500

Ranking by technical area
Ranking by strategic pillar


AstraZeneca is one of the biggest risers in 2016, climbing eight positions into the top 10. It improves in multiple areas, including pricing, where it has a new affordability-based pricing strategy. It has extensively expanded and updated its access strategy, which it operationalises, e.g., through its Healthy Heart Africa programme. It takes a transparent approach to IP management, disclosing how and where it will enforce patents or issue licences, and disclosing patent statuses. It has several best and innovative practices: in pricing, patents and capacity building. In R&D, its relevant pipeline has grown, but with comparatively little movement and less collaborative R&D based on pro-access terms. It has breached civil laws and codes of conduct multiple times. It does not have a structured donation programme.

Change since 2014

Launched its Healthy Heart Africa programme, which aims to reach 10 million hypertensive patients across Africa by 2025.

Is developing more products: including medicines for lower respiratory infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Has more products with equitable pricing strategies than in 2014.

Provides volume-of-sales data for the first time.

Still has no targets for registering new products in low- and middle-income countries.

Improves its accountability for its sales agents’ pricing practices, by providing pricing guidelines for all local sales agents.

Publishes the status of patents it holds in countries in scope.

Publicly commits to not file for patents in a range of low-income countries, lower-middle income countries and upper-middle income countries.

Improves in building manufacturing capacity, where it undertakes a relatively large number of capacity building activities (mainly in India and China).


Monitor impact of Healthy Heart Africa programme and expand to other regions. AstraZeneca can evaluate the impact of its hypertension-focused Healthy Heart Africa programme in Kenya and consider expanding it to other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and countries/regions. It can use the lessons learned from this programme to update its overall access strategy.

Broaden IP access strategy to include NCDs. AstraZeneca can expand the reach of programmes such as Healthy Heart Africa by licensing products for NCDs. For Healthy Heart Africa, this could include ticagrelor (Brilinta®), a first-line option for preventing atherothrombotic events. This could make AstraZeneca the first company to license a product targeting an NCD. A first step would be to explicitly include NCD products in its commitment to licensing.

Further expand partnerships with academia for R&D capacity building. AstraZeneca can build on its growing focus on academic partnerships in the UK to include public research organisations in low- and middle-income countries. Such partnerships can be important for addressing local research capacity gaps.

Plan for access during R&D. AstraZeneca can consider appropriate access provisions for all of its relevant products while they are still in the pipeline. This is important for key late-stage products, whether developed in-house or via research partnerships.

Expand new equitable pricing strategy to more products and countries. AstraZeneca can apply its new affordability-based pricing policy to more key products: such as its selective beta-2-adrenoreceptor agonists, used in the management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These belong to a therapeutic class listed on the WHO Model Essential Medicines List (EML). The company can also extend its policy to more priority countries (disease-specific sub-sets of countries with a particular need for access to relevant products): e.g., its equitable pricing strategy for budesonide (Pulmicort®) can be expanded to India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and China.

Sales and operations

AstraZeneca has one business segment, biopharmaceuticals, with activities in five main areas: respiratory disease; inflammation and autoimmunity; infection and neuroscience; oncology; cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. At the end of 2015, the company bought Takeda’s respiratory business for USD 575 mn. AstraZeneca has sales in 67 countries in scope.

Sales in countries in scope
Sales by division
Sales by region

Portfolio and pipeline

AstraZeneca has a mid-sized portfolio of relevant products, with 41 medicines and one preventive vaccine, and a mid-sized pipeline of 16 R&D projects that address the needs of people in countries in scope.

The majority of medicines in AstraZeneca’s portfolio target NCDs, with 18 medicines for hypertensive and ischaemic heart disease. It also has several medicines for diabetes, asthma and COPD. It has gained marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency for several products since 2014: saxagliptin/dapagliflozin (Qtern®) for type 2 diabetes, the MEDI-550 vaccine for preventing pandemic influenza, and ceftazidime/avibactam (Zavicefta®) for complicated Gram-negative bacterial infections.

Products per disease category

AstraZeneca’s portfolio is heavily focused on NCDs, which account for 86% of its total portfolio.

The focus of its clinical pipeline reflects its on-market portfolio: targeting lower respiratory infections, asthma, COPD and diabetes. It also has discovery-stage projects targeting Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, dengue, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, which target high-priority product gaps with low commercial incentive.

Pipeline projects

AstraZeneca conducts R&D for neglected tropical diseases with partners including the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and University College London. The company is also part of the new NTD Drug Discovery Booster.

First-line treatments and essential medicines

26 of AstraZeneca’s 42 products are on the WHO EML and/or are first-line treatments. Three for asthma and COPD are on the EML: budesonide (Pulmicort®), terbutaline (Bricanyl®), formeterol (Oxis Turbuhaler®).

Pipeline by stage of development
– Innovative medicines and vaccines

AstraZeneca focuses on developing innovative medicines. It is developing medicines targeting lower respiratory infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and respiratory syncytial virus, among others.

Pipeline by stage of development
– Adaptive medicines and vaccines

AstraZeneca has received EU-approval for ceftazidime-avibactam (Zavicefta®), a new combination antibiotic for Gram-negative bacterial infections. Phase III trial sites were conducted in high-burden countries.

Please refer to the pdf of the report card (that can be downloaded here) for information on AstraZeneca’s performance per technical area.

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