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Drugs company in good health.

Strong sales of blockbuster drugs over the summer sawAstraZeneca pass its medical with flying colours yesterday as the pharmaceuticals giant topped hopes for its third quarter results.

Astra said sales of its top five medicines including fat-busting drug Crestor, ulcer treatment Nexium and Seroquel for schizophrenia rose 25% on a year earlier in the period between July and September.

This helped group sales to rise 9% to pounds 3.25bn in the third quarter and counter the impact of weaker demand for other treatments including Iressa for cancer, which showed disappointing results in trials.

The Anglo-Swedish group expected its momentum to continue throughout the rest of 2005 as it forecast sales growth around the double-digit mark after stripping out the impact of currency swings.

Pre-tax profits were 23% higher at pounds 976m to beat consensus expectations for a surplus of pounds 897m. Nine month profits of pounds 2.79bn were 36% ahead of last year. This encouraged AstraZeneca to up its forecasts for earnings per share for the full year.

But concerns over its pipeline of drugs were revived by the revelation that two treatments under development were being discontinued.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 28, 2005
Words:190
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