Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca expects revenue from its Covid-19 medicines to fall by a fifth this year as demand wanes for its life-saving vaccine.
The business has reiterated that it expected sales of Vaxzevria – more commonly known as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – will decline later in 2022.
It comes despite sales of the vaccine rising around fourfold in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period 12 months ago, to more than 1.1 billion dollars.
But in Europe sales were down by 40%, the business revealed on Friday.
A year ago the continent took eight in 10 Vaxzevria vaccines produced as countries there were among the first to roll it out.
While sales of the vaccine are expected to fall this year, this will be partially offset by Astra’s new Covid treatment Evusheld.
It was approved in the UK last month for use with patients with poor immune responses.
Revenue grew by 60% across all of Astra’s business to 11.4 billion dollars (£9.1bn) in the first three months of the year,
Analysts had expected revenue to reach less than 11 billion, according to a consensus compiled by the company.
The pharma giant said that it had sold products for just under 11 billion dollars (£8.8bn) during the quarter, 51% higher than the same period a year ago.
Nearly 1.7 billion dollars of this was thanks to its deal with Alexion, a US medicines producer that focuses on treating rare diseases.
Astra bought Alexion in July last year, so its medicines were not counted in Astra’s results this time a year ago.
Separately the business announced that it will open a new research and development site in Cambridge, Massachusetts to be completed in 2026.
It will have 1,500 staff and serve as Alexion’s new headquarters.
“Today’s announcement is a milestone moment following the acquisition of Alexion in July 2021,” said chief executive Pascal Soriot.
“Our combined company has already successfully leveraged internal scientific synergies, and this move will act as a catalyst for even more external collaboration and innovation.”
“The move will provide access to some of the most innovative partners in academia and biotech, offering opportunities to accelerate our growth and collaborate with like-minded organisations as we continue to push the boundaries of science to deliver advances for patients.”