AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Pops On Possibility Of Another Pfizer (PFE) Bid; Start Of New Cancer Trial
8/29/2014 6:11:04 AM
AstraZeneca PLC Pops On Possibility Of Another Pfizer Inc. Bid; Start Of New Cancer Trial
August 29, 2014
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) stock rose two percent to £45.67 pounds yesterday after the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industry suggested another possible Pfizer (PFE) bid. AstraZeneca stocks have risen 9.5% in the last week, following a stream of good news regarding its pipeline and takeover bids by Pfizer. The month of August has been rife with rumors regarding a another Pfizer takeover, targets including GlaxoSmithKline and Actavis. At least part of the most recent speculation is related to the August 26th date, which was the earliest Pfizer could make a private bid for AstraZeneca after its rebuffed acquisition bid earlier this year. Despite the rumors, at this time Pfizer has not made any public indication they intend to revisit the AstraZeneca bid with a higher offer.
AstraZeneca, meanwhile, has recently moved a promising drug from its pipeline, MEDI-4736 to a mid-stage study for colorectal cancer. A Phase III study for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with MEDI-4736 was initiated in May of this year. MEDI-4736 is a human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), which is used by tumors to hide from the body’s immune system. MEDI-4736 blocks the signaling molecules tumors use to hide, which should help the body’s immune system attack the cancer cells. In the new study for colorectal cancer, the drug will be tested in 48 patients. The study is sponsored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and is a collaboration between AstraZeneca and MedImmune LLC.
This is more good news for UK-based AstraZeneca, which recently announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was dropping a 10-month investigation into its drug Brillinta®. Part of the PLATO clinical trial, which looked at 18,000 patients worldwide with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), there were allegations that some of the clinical trial results were a little too good to be true. However, the DoJ concluded there was not a problem and now the drug can be marketed in the U.S.
AztraZeneca also had recently announced positive results from a Phase III trial of an investigation antibiotic, ceftazidime-avibactaim, a treatment for adult hospitalized patients with complicated intra-abdominal infections. New antibiotic development is rare and would be good news for the company if it made it to the market. Similarly, if effective for colorectal cancer and other cancers, MEDI-4736 would have to potential to be “a potentially multi-blockbuster opportunity,” according to UBS analysts. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. In the U.S., the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 5%, or 1 in 20. In the U.S. in 2014 about 50,310 people are expected to die of the disease.
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