Point of View

FORA Leadership Insights: Steve McCrystal, VP GBS of AstraZeneca

August 3, 2018

Just like its Cambridge-based neighbour, Arm Limited (see the interview with Arm’s CFO, Tim Pullen), AstraZeneca is going through a period of rapid growth. Steve McCrystal, the keynote speaker at the recent HFS FORA Summit and the AstraZeneca executive responsible for its new Global Business Services organisation, explains to Steve Dunkerley that its growth is accompanied by a programme of digitalisation to free up capacity and focus on customer and patient outcomes. 


Recent growth


2014 was a critical year for AstraZeneca. Forty-four percent of its sales were under threat from patent expiration, and in May of that year, Pfizer made a failed attempt to acquire AstraZeneca for $118 billion. While fending off the hostile approach, CEO Pascal Soriot, pledged a near doubling of AstraZeneca’s revenues to $45 billion by 2023. He based that ambitious figure on the sheer number of drugs in its R&D pipeline, which spans its key therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, renal, and metabolism; oncology; respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity; infection; and neuroscience. Last February, Soriot reiterated AstraZeneca’s commitment to achieving its target but shifted the revenue target to $40 billion due to the strengthening of the dollar.

This year, the company has a programme of a whopping eight drug launches; this is unprecedented when you consider that the norm for AstraZeneca is no more than three launches in a year. Six of these launches are from its oncology portfolio, which is by far the company’s fastest-growing division. One such launch is the immunotherapy drug Imfinzi, which stimulates the body’s immune system to attack tumours; it recently gained FDA approval for previously treated, stage 3 lung cancer patients with inoperable tumours, a market without a single competitor in sight.



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