Shares in AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) have fallen into the red in today’s session as the company reported that its asthma treatment Fasenra had failed in a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) trial. The news marks a setback for the blue-chip pharmco which has bet on respiratory drugs as one of its core therapy areas to drive sales growth.
As of 09:24 BST, AstraZeneca’s share price had lost 0.24 percent to 5,239.40p. The shares are marginally underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having climbed marginally into positive territory and currently standing 0.02 percent higher at 7,702.35 points.
Drug trial setback
AstraZeneca announced in a statement this morning that a late-stage trial for its treatment Fasenra (benralizumab) had not met the primary endpoint of a statistically-significant reduction of exacerbations in patients with COPD. Fasenra is AstraZeneca’s first respiratory biologic now approved in severe eosinophilic asthma in the US, EU, Japan, Canada and Australia and under regulatory review in several other jurisdictions.
“COPD is a debilitating disease with significant unmet need among patients whose disease remains uncontrolled despite treatment with existing inhaled therapies. We will now await the results of TERRANOVA and a full evaluation of both trials to determine next steps for Fasenra in COPD,” the pharmco’s chief medical officer Dr. Sean Bohen commented in the statement.
Earlier this week, AstraZeneca announced that it had inked a deal to sell the rights to its schizophrenia and bipolar disorder treatment Seroquel as part of its strategy to focus on its three main therapy areas of Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory.
Analysts on pharmco
Shore Capital reiterated its ‘hold’ rating on AstraZeneca today, without specifying a price target on the shares. According to MarketBeat, the Anglo-Swedish pharmco currently has a consensus ‘buy’ rating and an average price target of 5,274.68p.