AstraZeneca Talks Drug Pricing, Pipeline, and Path Ahead
The pharmaceutical industry is firmly focused on a few key factors as of late: drug prices, M&A action, and the promise of drug pipelines.
AstraZeneca , a UK-based manufacturer of numerous popular drugs treating a number of ailments including cancer, inflammation, and asthma, has investors firmly focused on the same issues.
"We expect to see a further re-rating in Astra shares, as the market's confidence in Astra's strong long-term growth outlook increases," J.P.
Morgan's European equity team wrote to clients, touching on these factors.
"New launch oncology trends likely a continued investor focus.
The pace of Tagrisso and Imfinzi growth was a market focus at Q1'19 result...[and] further optionality from the pipeline, beyond Immuno-oncology, in particular upcoming Phase III data for Lynparza." "It's an amazing story from, from an oncology perspective," Biopharmaceuticals president Ruud Dobber told TheStreet on the floor of the New York Stock exchange on Thursday morning.
"Five or six years ago, the pipeline in oncology was completely empty and in the last few years we have been able to launch four or five groundbreaking drugs in oncology space in lung cancer and potentially for chronic lymphatic leukemia.
So it's an enormous turnaround of our oncology pipeline and we that we have to say that we are very competitive now with the Roche's and the Merck's of the world." Given the flow of data from recent phase studies related to the oncology products that are slated for FDA approval in the back half of the year and more into 2020, Dobber added that the portfolio remains "very, very healthy." The cancer drugs have been a major focus on the partnership front amidst major acquisitions in the pharma space.
AstraZeneca's strategy has been headlined by a $6.9 billion licensing agreement with Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo for its DS-8201 cancer drug.
Dobber called the drug a "potential blockbuster" and noted the hefty price tag will be well worth it in the long term.
Elsewhere, the asthma treatments the company has pushed forward as of late and continue to test are just as promising, namely with its new drug Fasenra.
In a recent Phase II trial for the drug published in April, the primary efficacy endpoint was the percentage of patients who reduced their absolute blood eosinophil counts (white blood cells related to allergic reactions) by 50% or more at week 12 and charted a statistically significant difference from placebo tests.
"In the open-label phase of the trial, 74% of patients maintained a reduction in eosinophil counts and had clinical improvements in their symptoms through week 48," the report adds.
After a successful recent Phase III trial showed similarly positive results, the drug received a positive opinion on self-administration in early July, setting up the expectation for FDA approval in the coming months.
"The results are, are overwhelmingly positive, overwhelmingly positive for the patients.
Equally also very positive for us as a company because the drug is doing very well," Dobber said.
For Dobber's full thoughts on the road ahead check out the video above.
AstraZeneca Biopharma President Talks Drug Rebates, Pricing