AstraZeneca's decision last year to sell Covid-19 vaccines for no profit has seen its share price gradually fall over the last nine months and meant it could have missed out on more than £20 billion ($27.59bn) in revenue.
The 'vaccine for the world' as it was dubbed may be saving lives, but it has not helped the company's finances.
In the last three months, AstraZeneca's share price has fallen more than 9 per cent as the pharmaceutical company has been engaged in a bitter dispute with the EU over supply issues.
Since July 2020 – when the British-Swedish firm announced positive interim results from early stage vaccine trials – its share price has slumped about 22.5 per cent, despite being among the first drug makers to develop an effective shot to protect against the deadly virus.
Nick Hyett, senior equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said a major reason for the decline was the move by AstraZeneca to sell the vaccine for no profit until the end of the pandemic.
"Astra basically are not making money out of selling the vaccine, whereas Pfizer are," he said, while noting that the initial excitement about the development of a vaccine against the virus helped inflate the stock price to an extent, in the early days of the pandemic.
On average, the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is being sold for £3.60 per dose, compared with a reported £15 for Pfizer-BioNTech's and £28 for Moderna's.
Sir John Bell, an Oxford University professor who helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine, said the company "never had credit" for its decision to sell cheaply and therefore help some of the poorest countries in the world get access to the vaccine.
"There's a point at which AstraZeneca could just say, 'You've got to be joking, we're going to stop now because we're not getting any credit for what we're doing'," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"The share price has gone down, not up. We're making more vaccines than everybody else. This is a safe and effective vaccine, but nobody seems to care."
AstraZeneca has also been beset by a variety of issues compared with the other pharmaceutical companies, which would have caused it reputational damage.
The EU has blamed shortfalls of AstraZeneca doses for the slow vaccination campaign across the bloc and threatened to stop it exporting until it has made up the difference.
Of 300 million doses due to be delivered to EU countries by the end of June, AstraZeneca has said it aims to deliver only 100 million.
The row has sucked in the British government, which has managed to vaccinate more than 40 per cent of its population, compared with just 9 per cent in Germany and France.
The company has also been criticised for the confusing way it has reported its efficacy results, which at one point led to some EU countries not using the shot on older people.
"When something goes wrong with a product, it's seldom the case that it's only a communications problem, but that appears to be the case with the AstraZeneca vaccine," said John Doorley, the former corporate communications director at German pharmaceutical company Merck.
"The available data show they've got a great vaccine and they're offering it in a way that's civically responsible, but it looks like the rush to satisfy legitimate communication pressures from the stock market and public health officials has led to some missteps," he told the Financial Times.