AstraZeneca's cancer news boosts CEO's $45B claim

London - Newly reported data for AstraZeneca's experimental cancer treatments "gives credibility" to the drugmaker's forecast of $45 billion in annual revenue by 2023, according to Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot.

The release of information on AstraZeneca's new medicines this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting should lessen skepticism about the prediction, Soriot said in an interview Sunday at the Chicago conference. The forecast is 75 percent higher than 2013 sales.

Soriot cited the forecast last month in rejecting Pfizer's bid to buy his company for $117 billion. A combination of two AstraZeneca drugs that target ovarian cancer almost doubled progression-free survival, according to one finding at the meeting, while early-stage data on a lung cancer drug shrank tumors in 64 percent of patients with a type of gene mutation. Results from a trial on AstraZeneca's immune therapy drug will be reported Tuesday.

When the forecast was first devised "we had a relatively low chance of success for these products," Soriot said. Now, they have "a very good chance to make it," he said.

Soriot also said the company is considering its own acquisitions. In turning down Pfizer's offer, Soriot repeatedly said the company could be more valuable on its own. AstraZeneca's revenue forecasts were set in September and October, and then released to the public May 6 following Pfizer's first public bid.

Still, Soriot said he was unwilling to raise the forecast.

"In the last eight months, we haven't had anything go down," he said. "But we will have projects that fail. It's the name of the game in our business. So we will redo" the forecast "in September, as we do every year."

Pfizer ended its six-month attempt to buy AstraZeneca May 26, the deadline imposed by the U.K. Takeover Panel.

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