JANE WARDELL AP Business Writer LONDON (AP) — AstraZeneca PLC posted a 6 percent rise in second quarter net profit on Thursday as the company weathered the global recession better than feared and some of its key drugs benefited from a lack of generic competition. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker bolstered its positive outlook with a decision to lift full year earnings per share forecast to a range of $5.70 to $6 from $5.15-$5.45. The company posted net profit of $1.72 billion for the three months to June 30, compared with $1.63 billion in the same period a year ago. Revenue was barely changed at $7.958 billion, compared with $7.956 billion, as exchange rate impacts all but wiped out a 9 percent gain on a constant currency basis. AstraZeneca Chief Executive David Brennan said that the impact of the global economic downturn on the company’s business and markets “has been less severe than we thought.” “Our efforts to build a sustainable pipeline are bearing fruit,” he added on a conference call with reporters, referring to the company’s attempts to beef out its previously thin cabinet of future drugs. AstraZeneca also managed to trim costs throughout the business, from distribution to research and development and selling expenses. However, it took a $430 million hit in the quarter, making a provision for the losses it expects to arise from U.S. legal proceedings relating to product liability, commercial disputes, infringement of intellectual property rights, the validity of patents and anti-trust law. The company declined to go into further detail about the charge. Investors welcomed the earnings update, with AstraZeneca shares lifting 2.4 percent to 2,870 pence on the London Stock Exchange. Cholesterol pill Crestor was the star performer, with sales increasing 33 percent, pushing quarterly sales past $1 billion — to $1.13 billion — for the first time. The company received a boost from sales of its heart drug Toprol-XL in the United States where the company ramped up production to meet demand after two competitors withdrew generic versions. It also benefited from the six-month delay of the introduction of a generic competitor to cancer treatment Casodex. The company forecast full-year sales growth of mid single digits at constant exchange rates, with roughly half the benefit from one-off items. It said the rise in the expected core earnings per share was due solely to operational performance, with no impact from currency movements. Brennan said the company was on track for four new approval filings this year as it boosts its pipeline. AstraZeneca and its partner Bristol-Myers Squibb are expecting to hear back from U.S. regulators on their new diabetes drug Onglyza on Thursday. Approval is expected after experts recommended the drug in April. AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit is working to deliver a nasal spray swine flu vaccine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services placed an initial $90 million order for the vaccine, intending to use it on high-risk populations in the event of a flu pandemic. Brennan said that MedImmune may be able to produce a total of 200 million doses of bulk vaccine, of which 40 million doses can be filled and finished into nasal sprayers by March next year. However, he added that the availability of sprayers is limited, so the company is both looking to increase the supply and alternative delivery devices — including drops.