AstraZeneca says it's made good progress developing a new pipeline of drugs. As Sonia Legg reports, the show of independence comes a week before UK takeover rules allow Pfizer to renew its pursuit.
"Leave us alone" - the message from AstraZeneca as it updates the industry on its progress. It's flagging a portfolio of immune-boosting cancer drugs and says it could win 8 - 10 new approvals in 2015 and 16. It's almost six months since the UK drug maker was a Pfizer takeover target. And next week the U.S. giant it will legally be able to make another bid. But will it? Alastair McCaig says things have changed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IG MARKET COMMENTATOR, ALASTAIR MCCAIG, SAYING: "The reasons that AstraZeneca was so attractive to Pfizer are good reasons why other potential US investors might look at AstraZeneca as a possible target with regard to the fact that they have a number of products that are in varying stages of FDA approval but very much targetted at a US market." The big difference, 'though, is the U.S. tax inversion rule. Pfizer can no longer make a killing re-locating its headquarters to the UK. Chris Hughes is from Reuters Breakingviews (SOUNDBITE) (English): Chris Hughes, Reuters Breakingviews, saying: "Pfizer will have the rethink where the real synergies lie in that deal and pay more attention to the operational synergies rather than the financial synergies. Now that actually is a big help to AstraZeneca's defence." Pfizer also signed a major cancer drug deal with Germany's Merck this week. That's reduced the firm's need for Astra's products. (SOUNDBITE) (English): Chris Hughes, Reuters Breakingviews, saying: "Any return for Astrazeneca would have to be at least at what they were last time at 55 pounds a share - AstraZeneca wanted 58.85. To justify those sorts of numbers now in a much more uncertain tax environment is really hard but it may be that Pfizer can find operational synergies that make it worthwhile." Pfizer must certainly do something - a number of its patents expire in the next two years One way or another it needs to find new products - and AstraZeneca clearly has quite a few.