AstraZeneca to focus on cancer treatments while cutting commercial and manufacturing operations
AstraZeneca aims to touch annual revenues of at least $45bn by 2023 Getty Images

AstraZeneca is planning to give more priority to its oncology business. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals firm will focus on cancer treatments in an attempt to streamline operations and help increase revenues. It also plans to initiate a cost cutting drive that could help save it about $1.1bn (£754m, €966m) annually.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive at AstraZeneca, said he would give more importance to the flow of investments. He added that the company would increase spending on oncology while reducing commercial and manufacturing operations which would result in a "material decline" in selling, general and administrative expenses in 2016 and 2017.

The measures will help the company with a net annualised savings of $1.1bn. "This, together with the drive for greater efficiency, will deliver a material decline in core costs this year and next," AstraZeneca said. However, the measures will cost the London headquartered company a one-off restructuring charge of $1.5bn.

AstraZeneca aims to touch annual revenues of at least $45bn by 2023. This is about 80% more than the $24.7bn revenues it clocked in 2015. The company is expecting to achieve this target with the help of its oncology unit.

The news came as AstraZeneca reported its first quarter results. The company said its revenues for the quarter rose 1% to $6.12bn. While this beat analyst expectations, the drug maker's core operating profit, which is its preferred metric to compare growth, slid 12% to $1.59bn.

Referring to the results and its growth strategy, Soriot said: "I was particularly pleased with the results in China, where we continued to deliver double-digit sales growth, and with the progress of our new oncology launches. We are further sharpening our strategic focus on our main therapy areas, intensifying our efforts in oncology and accelerating collaborations in opportunistic areas. We are also driving greater efficiency across the organisation to support the advancement of our strategy."