Astra rises on drug approval

City A.M. Reporter
ASTRAZENECA shares jumped two per cent on yesterday, buoyed by US approval for its new heart drug Brilinta as a rival to Plavix, the world’s second-biggest selling medicine.

But industry analysts warned the London-based drugmaker still had a battle on its hands to sell the product in the world’s top market, given its interaction with aspirin and expected launch of cheap generic copies of Plavix next year.

Investors had been on tenterhooks ahead of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision, and the positive verdict more than offset a setback just 24 hours earlier for a diabetes pill being developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Brilinta is a new competitor to Sanofi’s and Bristol-Myers’ $9bn-a-year seller Plavix, which is now facing cut-price generic competition in many markets.

Analysts, on average, expect global sales of Brilinta of about $1.4bn in 2015. That may rise in light of the FDA decision.

The fate of the new medicine is critical for AstraZeneca which, unlike more diversified rivals, is betting everything on its ability to bring such new prescription drugs to market. It badly needs new products as older drugs lose patent protection.

However analysts said that the fact that Brilinta interacts badly with aspirin – a common drug among heart patients – could dent sales.