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PPIP Rides Success of AstraZeneca

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

As members of the Pittsburgh Pharmacy Investment Portfolio (PPIP), student pharmacists utilize the clinical knowledge that we learn in class along with investment basics to analyze pharmaceutical companies. We research a company’s products, upcoming pipeline, finances, and other pieces of information to determine whether they are a worthy investment for our simulator portfolio on One company that has been a worthy investment for our virtual portfolio is AstraZeneca (AZN). AstraZeneca is currently the lion’s share of our portfolio making up roughly 12% of PPIP’s current holdings. One hundred shares of AstraZeneca were purchased in 2019 at $37 per share. In 2020, these numbers have grown to 130 shares for $59 per share and an impressive total growth of 45%.

AstraZeneca has put together impressive product development in 2020 which helps explain their increase in share price. One such product is Enhertu®, a cancer medication that has accomplished major breakthroughs this year. In a short amount of time, Enhertu® has been granted orphan designation for gastric cancer in the United States. This follows recent US Breakthrough Therapy Designations for HER2-positive metastatic gastric cancer and HER2-mutant metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. AstraZeneca’s SGL2 inhibitor Farxiga® has also taken major strides forward this year with several heart health indications in addition to its current use in diabetes. Most recently, the FDA will fast track its review for the use of Farxiga® to reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to heart attacks. Farxiga is already approved to reduce the risk of CV deaths due to HFrEF in patients with or without diabetes and is eyeing up other potential block buster indications such as chronic kidney disease. Finally, AZ appears to be one of the leaders in the coronavirus vaccine race. In May, AstraZeneca inked pacts with the U.S. and UK pledging 400 million doses of its vaccine by the end of 2020 in combination with the University of Oxford.

PPIP will be monitoring the activity of AstraZeneca very closely over the upcoming months to see if their strong performance can continue over the long run. PPIP’s current position on AstraZeneca is to hold with potential buying opportunity depending on updates with their diabetes medications and corona virus vaccine. This is one example of the type of research and information we utilize to determine what stocks make up PPIP’s portfolio.

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