AstraZeneca share price: drug maker receives EU approval for child flu vaccine

on Dec 6, 2013
Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Listen, Friday, December 6: Britain’s second largest pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) has announced that the European Commission (EC) has granted marketing authorisation to its nasally administered four-strain flu vaccine Fluenz Tetra.

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The company said in a press release today that the approval makes the vaccine, aimed for the prevention of influenza in children and adolescents from 24 months to 18 years of age, the first and only intra-nasal four-strain influenza vaccine available in Europe. In the past, flu vaccines have only contained three strains of flu, comprising two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus. Fluenz Tetra, however,

contains an additional influenza B strain, AstraZeneca explained, adding that
influenza B strains have accounted for around 25 percent of the flu strains circulating in Europe.
“Fluenz Tetra represents the next generation of influenza vaccine and we are pleased that it is now approved in Europe,” said Filip Dubovsky, Vice President of Clinical Biologics Infectious Disease and Vaccines at AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm. “The inclusion of a second influenza B strain will broaden the coverage of Fluenz Tetra and should have a valuable public health impact,” he added.

The EC approval is based on data from a recent paediatric study, which showed a similar safety and immunogenicity profile to the three-strain Fluenz vaccine that has already been approved in Europe. The EC decision also follows a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use in September.
**Weighing Forest Labs bid?**
In a separate development, the Financial Times has reported, that according to inside sources, AstraZeneca is considering a takeover bid for Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX), a US-based developer of antidepressants and Alzheimer’s treatments.

The speculation comes shortly after recently appointed Forest CEO Brenton Saunders announced a major shake-up of the company’s operations, including a cost-cutting programme aimed at trimming $500 million off its cost base and a $400 million share buyback.
The FT report has suggested that AstarZeneca’s financial advisers recently met the senior management at Forest to discuss a cash offer for the company, which is valued at around $15 billion. In light of Forest’s multiple restructuring and cost-cutting measures, its shares hit an eight-year high this week, riding a 20 percent increase since early October. However, the recent price rise may make it more difficult for the companies to agree a price. Reportedly, the negotiations are still at a very early stage. Both parties have so far declined to comment on the bid rumours.

Citigroup analysts have recently said that AstraZeneca was likely to pursue the acquisition of at least two companies in 2014, without jeopardizing the stock’s dividend. Another potential targets is Swiss biotech company Actelion valued at £6 billion, whose heart and respiratory drugs are seen as being complementary to AstraZeneca’s portfolio (AstraZeneca share price: UK drug maker may want to buy Actelion).
AstraZeneca’s share price has fallen 2.15 percent so far today. According to AnalystRatingsNetwork data, 13 research analysts have a ‘sell’ rating for the stock, 15 have a ‘hold’ rating and four have a ‘buy’ rating. The stock’s average rating is ‘hold’ with a consensus price target of 3,047.84p.
**As of 13:07 UTC, buy AstraZeneca shares at 3,464.00p.**
**As of 13:07 UTC, sell AstraZeneca shares at 3,462.50p.**
**As of Thursday, December 5, buy Forest Laboratories shares at $55.98.**
**As of Thursday, December 5, sell Forest Laboratories shares at $55.41.**


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