AstraZeneca, BTG scrap sepsis drug as trial fails

City A.M. Reporter
An experimental drug for severe sepsis from AstraZeneca and BTG failed to help patients in a crucial mid-stage clinical trial and its development will now be halted, BTG said on today.
Sepsis occurs when the body's immune system sets off a chain reaction and over-reacts to an infection, damaging vital organs.

The news is a blow for both companies' drug pipelines, although the development of CytoFab, or AZD9773, was always viewed by analysts as high-risk.

There are big potential rewards for a successful medicine to treat sepsis, which affects around 3m people a year worldwide and has a 30 per cent mortality rate. The drug industry, however, is littered with past failures in the area.

Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkes said CytoFab, might have generated £1bn in annual sales if it had worked, with BTG getting a royalty of around 25 per cent - but he had only given it a one in five chance of success.

CytoFab is the second high-risk drug to flunk tests this week, following the failure of a keenly anticipated Alzheimer's treatment from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Elan.

BTG said it expected to take a charge of approximately £28m in the current financial year related to the ending of the drug's development, following the failure of the Phase IIb study.