Shares in AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) have climbed into positive territory in today’s session, outperforming the broader UK market, as US regulators approved the pharmco’s drug for severe asthma. The news is a boost for the Anglo-Swedish pharmco which is continuing to deal with competition from cheaper generics to some of its top-selling drugs.
As of 13:23 GMT, AstraZeneca’s share price had added 0.69 percent to 4,993.50p, outperforming the benchmark FTSE 100 index which has fallen into the red and is currently 0.51 percent worse off at 7,376.30 points. The group’s shares have added more than 14 percent to their value over the past year, and are up by some 12 percent in the year-to-date.
FDA okays benralizumab
AstraZeneca announced in a statement today that the US Food and Drug Administration had approved its treatment benralizumab, marketed as Fasenra, for the add-on maintenance treatment of patients with severe asthma aged 12 years and older, and with an eosinophilic phenotype. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cells, a normal part of the body’s immune system. Elevated levels of eosinophils, however, impact airway inflammation and result in increased asthma severity.
The approval follows a recommendation from an advisory committee to the European Medicines Agency last week.
“This is the first approval from our respiratory biologics portfolio and the latest in a series of significant milestones for our company as we deliver on our pipeline-driven transformation,” AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot commented in the statement.
The news comes after AstraZeneca updated investors on its third-quarter performance earlier this month, forecasting that its full-year earnings will come in “towards the favourable end” of its guidance.
New drug to compete with GSK and Teva treatments
Reuters noted in its coverage of the news that while Fasenra will compete with GlaxoSmithKline’s (LON:GSK) Nucala and Teva’s Cinqair, AstraZeneca believes that its product’s potency and convenient dosing could give it an edge. The Anglo-Swedish pharmco is also being competitive on cost, setting a long-term price below that of rivals.