AZ chief refuses to budge

 AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan has played down speculation over his future at the company.

Major shareholders recently questioned whether Mr Brennan was the right man to lead the company out of its current pipeline problems.

However, the CEO says he is “plugged in” to the current issues the company faces and insists his role “hasn’t changed a bit” after the criticism of his leadership.

AZ is set to be one of the biggest losers during the ‘patent cliff’. Its major brands Seroquel and Atacand lose protection this year, Nexium is set to go off patent in 2014/15 and Crestor in 2016.

Its huge £15.6 billion takeover of MedImmune in 2007 was hoped to ease the pressure of generic competition but has failed to meet expectations and led one shareholder to say the deal has “tarnished” the CEO’s reputation.

But Mr Brennan, who has been the CEO for the past six years, insists he is the right man to lead the company. He commented: “I read and hear and see lots of things, but we’re here trying to change policy, make good decisions and execute our strategy.

“If it’s about restructuring, we can do that without a big deal. Maybe somebody sees something different, but spending more money does not have a linear increase in the number of returns you get from a research and development perspective.”

It’s widely expected that the 58-year-old will vacate his role around the time of his 60th birthday. But an AZ spokesperson said that Mr Brennan is still “fully committed to leading AstraZeneca”.