AstraZeneca first identified the production constraints affecting the Type II diabetes treatment at the time of its fourth quarter results, in February 2019. Back then, AstraZeneca attributed a 5% drop in quarterly sales of Bydureon Bcise (exenatide extended-release) to “year-end production constraints of [the] new Bcise device.”
Recently, Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, told investors the company is still living with the consequences of the supply constraints nine months later.
Discussing AstraZeneca’s third quarter results, Dobber said, “Bydureon, including the auto-injected Bydureon Bcise, sales were down by 7%. Sales were partly driven by the impact of production constraints in the first half of the new Bydureon Bcise device and declining volumes for the dual-chamber pen.”
The 7% decline in sales, quoted by Dobber, covers the first nine months of the year and exclude the effect of changing foreign exchange rates. Bydureon fared worse still in the third quarter, when global sales dropped 16% to $127m (€114m).
This sharp drop in Bydureon Bcise sales in the third quarter happened despite efforts to resolve the supply constraints. In July, Dobber told investors AstraZeneca had fixed the production constraints, setting it up to deliver on its promise to return supply to normal in the second half of the year.
AstraZeneca’s failure to translate the resolution of the supply constraints into improved sales stems from a downturn in performance in the US. The country helped to prop up Bydureon over the first half of the year but that support fell away in the third quarter as US sales of the diabetes drug fell 16%.
Following the third quarter results, US sales of Bydureon are down 5% over the year to date. Europe and other established markets in the rest of the world remain the worst performers, posting declines in Bydureon sales of 14% and 25%, respectively, over the first nine months of the year.
Growth in other parts of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM) business has enabled the unit to weather the impact of the Bydureon downturn. Sales at the CVRM business were up 7% over the first three quarters, in large part because soaring demand for Brilinta (ticagrelor) and Farxiga (dapagliflozin) in emerging markets.