AstraZeneca to continue to seek new compounds: Brennan

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AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan says he will continue to seek new acquisitions to fill the drugmaker’s pipeline.

“We haven’t put a dollar limit on what else we think we can do,” Brennan said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We’re interested in late-stage opportunities in a number of areas.”

AstraZeneca has an estimated $7 billion in cash remaining to spend after investing $1.4 billion from 2006 through March 2007 for rights to medicines.

The drugmaker seeks to acquire treatments in the respiratory, inflammation infections, cardiovascular and oncology categories, Brennan said.

“We need to be a company that is viewed as being able to deliver on the promise of the pipeline, the promise of science,” Brennan told Bloomberg News.

The drugmaker stepped up its search for new medicines after its developmental heart drug AGI-1067 was scrapped in April. Stroke drug NXY-059, also know as Cerovive, was sidelined in October 2006, following anticoagulant Exanta in February and metabolic syndrome treatment Galida in May.

 In response, AstraZeneca restructured its licensing organization in order to respond quicker to opportunities outside its own labs.

John Goddard, former CFO of the company’s US unit was appointed head of business development. Goddard soon after hired an additional 30 to 40 people to speed up the search for new compounds.  

Meanwhile, in April, AstraZeneca agreed to purchase US flu vaccine maker MedImmune for $15.2 billion.

Analysts noted the deal marked a change in strategy for AstraZeneca, with the drugmaker taking on debt for the first time for a bid that was 11 times MedImmune’s sales.

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