Shares in pharma giant AstraZeneca rose today, after it announced Imfinzi, one of its flagship cancer drugs, had taken a step towards approval in the US - just days after it said it had produced disappointing results in a trial.
Shares in AstraZeneca were up 1.4 per cent at 4,545p after it said the drug, also known as Durvurmalab, had been given breakthrough therapy designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with locally-advanced, unresectable non-small cell lung cancer.
Last week shares in Astra fell more than 15 per cent after it said results of its Mystic trial of the drug, on patients with advanced lung cancer, had not met expectations.
But today's announcement covers an earlier stage of lung cancer, preventing the disease from progressing to other parts of the body. Imfinzi has already received approval as a treatment for bladder cancer.
“For patients who have not progressed following chemoradiation therapy the only current option is active monitoring," said Sean Bohen, the company's chief medical officer.
"Unfortunately, for the majority of patients, their cancer will progress to metastatic disease, typically within 12 months. Imfinzi is the first immuno-oncology medicine to show a clinically-significant benefit in this earlier, non-metastatic setting, so following the breakthrough designation we hope to bring it to patients as soon as possible.”
Astra has been forced to defend itself in recent months against against accusations its pipeline of new drugs is drying up.
Earlier this month Pascal Soriot, its chief executive, denied rumours he had been hired by Israeli rival Teva.
In a staff memo he said:
Together, we are poised to achieve something remarkable and that few thought possible.
Nothing can break the momentum you have established, and certainly not rumours.