Apr 24, 4:55 AM EDT

AstraZeneca profit falls as patent expires on heartburn drug

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LONDON (AP) -- Anglo-Swedish drug-maker AstraZeneca PLC reported a 7 percent fall in net profit for the first quarter of 2015, as cheaper copies of one of its best-sellers ate into sales.

Net profit for the three months to March 31 was $1.37 billion, down from $1.47 billion a year earlier. Revenue fell 6 percent to $6.06 billion.

Sales were hit by the U.S. patent expiring on heartburn drug Nexium. The patent on cholesterol drug Crestor, another big seller, expires next year.

But AstraZeneca reported 45 percent growth in sales of heart drug Brilinta, and 18 percent growth in emerging markets.

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said AstraZeneca was bolstering its oncology division, with 72 trials of cancer drugs underway.

AstraZeneca shares fell 2.4 percent to 47.13 pounds ($71.35) in London trading on Friday.

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