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AZ's 'blockbuster' lung cancer drug fails, Q2 revenue falls

Published on 27/07/17 at 10:12am

The long-awaited results for AstraZeneca’s Mystic trial have been revealed and, in a shocking setback for the company, it was found that its injectable immunotherapy treatment Imfinzi (durvalumab) and immune checkpoint blocker tremelimumab were no better at stopping lung cancer progression than standard chemotherapy in patients expressing protein PD-L1 in over 25% of their cancer cells.

Sean Bohen, Chief Medical Officer at AstraZeneca, commented on the results, saying: "While the results from the MYSTIC trial for progression free survival in first-line Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer compared with standard of care are disappointing, the trial was designed to assess overall survival and we look forward to evaluating the remaining primary endpoints of overall survival for both mono- and combination therapy."

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot, who was rumoured recently to making the leap to rival Teva, added: “Despite the outcome of the initial readout, we must be patient as the Mystic trial continues as planned to evaluate overall survival.”

The news caused the company’s shares to plummet by 15%, with £10 billion vanishing from its value overnight. It compounds the dismal second quarter results recently released by the company which showed that drug sales continue to fall; year-on-year, AZ reported that total revenue for the first quarter had fallen 10%. In the first half of the year overall, revenue was down 11% to $11.5.

Despite this, Soriot remarked: “I'm excited about our pipeline-driven transformation as we continue to deliver for shareholders on our strategy to return to sustainable long-term growth. In a pivotal year for AstraZeneca, we remain focused on realising the potential of our pipeline, growing our new launch medicines and bringing our strong science to patients."

The failure of the trial leaves AstraZeneca in a compromised position, with faith in its pipeline evaporating as uncertainty still circulates over the future of its top executive.

Matt Fellows

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