AztraZeneca falls on drug trial flop

City A.M. Reporter
ASTRAZENECA’S cancer drug Recentin failed in a head to head late stage trial with Roche’s Avastin in colon cancer patients, hurting the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s shares yesterday.

The company said the data showed the experimental drug did not live up to expectations.

But it said it would wait for fresh data from a second late stage trial before making any decisions on filing the drug for approval.

“While we recognised that challenging Avastin would be a high hurdle, it is still disappointing, despite evidence of clinical activity with Recentin, not to have met the primary endpoint in this study,” Astra’s head of oncology Alan Barge said in a statement.

Recentin, a pill, was developed to challenge Roche’s injectable treatment Avastin. Both are targeted therapies designed to starve tumours by stopping them from building blood vessels, a process called anti-angiogenesis.

Analysts see Recentin reaching sales of around $329m (£217m) by 2013.

Morgan Stanley analysts said an upcoming US ruling on a patent challenge to Astra’s cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor -- the firm's most crucial sales driver -- was “the next critical catalyst” for the stock, and were “cautiously optimistic” on that.

A verdict on the Crestor trial is expected from Delaware district court before the end of July, when the judge in the case is due to retire.

Shares in the firm shed 1.7 per cent before recovering to close at 2,953p, a 1.4 per cent drop.