By Marta Falconi
ZURICH--AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) aims to replenish its thin pipeline of new drugs through external collaborations and by buying drugs in late stages of development from other drugmakers, Chairman Leif Johansson said in an interview Tuesday.
His comments come after the company announced it appointed former Roche head of pharma, Pascal Soriot, as chief executive, to succeed David Brennan, who earlier this year retired abruptly amid shareholder dissatisfaction with the company's performance.
"There's a number of medicines going off patent," Mr. Johansson said. "We need to replenish them."
The U.K.'s No. 2 drug maker by sales, after GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK), has suffered a number of expensive drug-development failures, and shown a poor track record in bringing new medicines to market, analysts say. Some of AstraZeneca's biggest drugs are facing, or will soon face, competition from low-cost generics.
Mr. Johansson also said that while the pharmaceutical sector is facing challenges, there are also opportunities, such as the possibility of buying buy late-stage drugs, emerging markets and advances in science, including genome technology, which he touted as a way to learn how the human body works and possibly help find new drugs.
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