AstraZeneca Dumps Two Drugs From Pipeline
AstraZeneca Dumps Two Drugs From Pipeline, Causing an Ex-Partner’s Stock to Tank Some More
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
LONDON – As AstraZeneca (AZN) faces declining revenue this year from the loss of patents and the challenge of generic drugs, the company culled two drugs from its pipeline – the inhaled interferon beta therapy AZD9412 and Parkinson’s drug AZD3412, a myeloperoxidase inhibitor, both co-developed by Synairgen.
AstraZeneca’s decision, which was announced in its quarterly report released this morning and first reported by Endpoints, sent shares of Synairgen down about 50 percent, plunging from $26.86 to $13 per share. This was the second time AstraZeneca’s actions have crushed Synairgen share prices. In October, AstraZeneca halted a Phase IIa trial for AZD9412, a severe asthma treatment. Interim data indicated the drug would not reach its primary endpoints due to low numbers of “reported severe exacerbations.” That move also tanked shares of Synairgen.
A focus on respiratory drugs has been key to AstraZeneca’s strategy, particularly since the $575 million acquisition of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (TKPYY)’s core respiratory business, including global rights to roflumilast, a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Synairgen said data from the trial showed that treatment with inhaled beta interferon switched on the lung’s antiviral defenses and had a beneficial effect on lung function. Although the trial did not meet AstraZeneca’s progression criteria, this morning Richard Marsden, chief executive officer of Synairgen, said in a statement that the company remains positive about “the potential of inhaled interferon beta, particularly for patients with COPD who suffer due to respiratory viruses.” He said the company will examine the data carefully and determine what the future path for the drug is.
In addition to its respiratory pipeline, AstraZeneca is also banking on its oncology drugs. The company believes new developmental drugs in its pipeline, including a combination lung cancer drug with its the anti-PD-L1 antibody durvalumab, could be key to future revenues. Investors are waiting for data from AstraZeneca’s Phase III MYSTIC trial for its first-line lung cancer treatment. The trial will assess progression free survival and overall survival endpoints in patients with PDL1-expressing tumors for both durvalumab monotherapy and the combination of durva + treme, as well as in ‘all comers’ for the combination of durva + treme, versus SoC chemotherapy, the company said.
AstraZeneca is also hoping to expand the use of its PARP inhibitor, Lynparza. In February the company announced Lynparza in tablet form met primary endpoints in a Phase III trial to treat patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer harboring germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.
In its quarterly report, AstraZeneca laid out how many of its drugs are losing revenue due to competition. For example, AstraZeneca said sales of schizophrenia drug Seroquel XR were down 83 percent in the United States and 37 percent in Europe. COPD drug Symbicort saw a decline of 21 percent in the United States, which AstraZeneca said was in line with predictions for 2017.