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AstraZeneca announces positive results from two trials and deals surrounding six medicines

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AstraZeneca has announced two positive results from clinical trials, and a number of deals surrounding its medicines.

Its Brilinta (ticagrelor) drug, when taken twice daily and with aspirin for 30 days, reduced the risk of death or stroke, compared to aspirin alone, when given to patients within 24 hours of them having a minor acute ischaemic stroke or high-risk transient ischaemic attack (TIA) within 24 hours. The phase III THALES trial was conducted in more than 11,000 patients.

Brilinta is already approved in more than 110 countries for the treatment of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and in more than 70 countries for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular (CV) events among high-risk patients who have experienced a heart attack.

Dr Jose Baselga, AstraZeneca's executive vice-president, research & development oncology. Picture: AstraZeneca (27750961)
Dr Jose Baselga, AstraZeneca's executive vice-president, research & development oncology. Picture: AstraZeneca (27750961)

Meanwhile, a phase II trial of the drug Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan), from AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo Company, produced a response and improved survival in patients with HER2-positive unresectable or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer who had already had treatment.

José Baselga, executive vice president, oncology R&D, at AstraZeneca, said: “Gastric cancer is usually diagnosed in the advanced stage and patients face markedly high mortality rates, making the need for new therapies especially urgent.

“Given the previous results seen in our HER2-positive development programme and now in HER2-positive metastatic gastric cancer, we believe this antibody drug conjugate has the potential to redefine the treatment of patients with HER2-expressing cancers.”

AstraZeneca also announced a number of deals on Monday.

It is recovering the global rights to brazikumab (formerly MEDI2070), a monoclonal antibody targeting IL23, from Allergan. The drug is in trials for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Dr Mene Pangalos, of AstraZeneca. Picture: AstraZeneca / Marcus Lyon
Dr Mene Pangalos, of AstraZeneca. Picture: AstraZeneca / Marcus Lyon

Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, biopharmaceuticals R&D, said: “We’re pleased to bring brazikumab back into the AstraZeneca pipeline. With our expanding presence in immunology, there is an opportunity to address a significant unmet need in inflammatory bowel diseases where the majority of patients are unable to achieve clinical remission with current treatment options.

“This agreement creates an opportunity for us to complete the full development programme and bring this potential new treatment option to patients as quickly as possible.”

And the company, which is building its global HQ and R&D centre in Cambridge, has agreed to sell the global commercial rights to Inderal (propranolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Tenoretic (atenolol, chlorthalidone fixed-dose combination), Zestril (lisinopril) and Zestoretic (lisinopril, hydrochlorothiazide fixed-dose combination) to Atnahs Pharma for an upfront payment of $350million, with a further $40m contingent on sales between 2020 and 2022.

The drugs, primarily used to treat hypertension, have lost their patent protection globally.

The agreement excludes the rights in the US and India, which were previously divested, and in Japan, which will be retained by AstraZeneca.

Ruud Dobber, executive vice president, biopharmaceuticals, said: “These are important established medicines, and the divestment to Atnahs ensures they will continue to be available to patients. This transaction supports our strategy to realise value from our portfolio of non-core mature brands, enabling further investment in new medicines.”

AstraZeneca said it would continue to manufacture and supply Inderal, Tenormin, Tenoretic, Zestril and Zestoretic to Atnahs during a transition period.

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