AstraZeneca’s ambitions for keeping pace with GlaxoSmithKline in the severe COPD market just took a big hit.
In a late-stage COPD trial released Friday, the British drugmaker’s blockbuster hopeful Fasenra didn’t beat placebo at holding off episodes when symptoms suddenly worsen. The study, dubbed Galathea, examined the drug as an add-on to dual- or triple-inhaled therapy.
AstraZeneca isn’t throwing in the towel yet, though. It’s still fielding one more phase 3 study, Terranova, and “we will now await the results … and a full evaluation of both trials to determine next steps for Fasenra in COPD,” R&D chief Sean Bohen said in a statement.
Selumetinib (AZD6244) is a drug that was discovered by Array BioPharma and was licensed to AstraZeneca. It is being investigated for the treatment of various types of cancer, such as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
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Chinese premier Li Keqiang said China will nix import tariffs on foreign anticancer drugs, a plan that could benefit drugmakers like Roche, Novartis and AstraZeneca, while prompting local pharmas to amp up their games.
“We aim to further bring down overall tariffs across the importing process, with tariff rates for important day-to-day consumer goods, including drugs, slashed. And we also plan to phase in zero tariff for the much-needed anti-cancer drugs,” said Li during a televised press conference at the close of the country’s annual congress conference on Tuesday.
Without providing a detailed timeline, Li also said the country will open up further to stimulate market vitality and public creativity.
Fulvestrant (trade name Faslodex, by AstraZeneca) is a drug treatment of hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer in postmenopausal women with disease progression following anti-estrogen therapy. It is a complete estrogen receptor antagonist with no agonist effects, which in addition, accelerates the proteasomal degradation of the estrogen receptor.
Joining other Western drug companies that are scaling back their research commitment in China, AstraZeneca says it will turn its R&D center in Shanghai into a joint venture with a Chinese investor.
The new company, Dizal Pharmaceutical, will be a 50-50 venture with government-backed SDIC Fund Management. Dizal will inherit AstraZeneca’s R&D assets in China, including three drugs in preclinical development and the firm’s Shanghai R&D center, in which it has invested tens of millions of dollars since 2006.
While costs have increased and China is no longer a cheap place for drug companies to conduct research, the quality of services provided by contract research and manufacturing firms has risen, he says. “You can now research, develop, and even conduct clinical trials of new drugs in China without an R&D center,” he says.