FEARS that claims over Seroquel would turn into a full-scale pharmaceutical scandal were clearly overblown. At just $11,300 (£7,000) per claimant, AstraZeneca has got off pretty lightly. With 4,500 outstanding claims to settle (2,900 of which have already been dismissed) it is clear that the fallout is not going to run into the billions of dollars, as was first thought.
Still, Seroquel has been a distraction from the real problem: Astra’s new drugs cupboard is looking increasingly bare, with hopes of finding a new blockbuster fading fast.
Zibotentan, Astra’s prostate cancer drug, didn’t exactly shine in second stage trials, which showed the drug doesn’t stop the disease from progressing. There does seem to be a beneficial impact on overall survival rates, but investors will have to wait for phase three trials to see if this is enough to make the drug a success. It was once tipped as a rival to Dendreon’s market leader prostate cancer drug Provenge, but it looks as though it won’t come close.
Astra needs to find a replacement – and fast.