AstraZeneca shares jump as pharma giant hails ‘huge step forward’ with successful trial of breast cancer drug
- Around 540 patients from Asia, Europe, and the US were involved in the trial
- Enhertu was shown to have slowed the progression of metastatic breast cancer
- About two million people worldwide were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020
AstraZeneca shares jumped by nearly 4 per cent on Monday as the pharmaceutical giant revealed the second successful late-stage trial of a life-prolonging cancer drug in less than a week.
The FTSE 100 group said that the drug Enhertu was shown to have slowed the progression of metastatic breast cancer containing low levels of the protein HER2 and enhanced the survival of those suffering from the condition.
Around 540 patients from Asia, Europe, and the United States were involved in the trial for the drug, which was developed in partnership with Japanese firm Daiichi Sankyo.
Success: Astrazeneca said that the drug Enhertu was shown to have slowed the progression of metastatic breast cancer containing low levels of the protein HER2
AstraZeneca said the people who used the medication exhibited positive effects, which were ‘statistically significant and clinically meaningful’ when measured against standard chemotherapy.
It subsequently intends to reach out to regulatory agencies across the world to try and have the medicine approved for use.
The announcement comes six days after AstraZeneca declared positive results from the Phase III trial for Lynparza, a treatment for prostate cancer, the second most common cancer affecting men globally.
That experiment showed that when the drug was used together with a common hormone therapy, it delayed the advance of the disease by over eight months against standard treatment.
Lynparza has already been proven to treat ovarian and breast cancers, and AstraZeneca earned more than $2.7billion in revenue from its sales last year, compared to just $214million for Enhertu.
But Susan Galbraith, the Executive Vice-President of Oncology Research & Development at the FTSE 100 business, said the Enhertu findings ‘could reshape how breast cancer is classified and treated.’
Gamechanger: Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca’s Executive Vice-President of Oncology R&D, said the Enhertu findings ‘could reshape how breast cancer is classified and treated’
She added: ‘These results for Enhertu are a huge step forward and could potentially expand our ability to target the full spectrum of HER2 expression, validating the need to change the way we categorise and treat breast cancer.’
About two million people were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, while around 685,000 deaths were caused by the disease, according to the Global Cancer Observatory.
In the UK, about one in eight women – and a small proportion of men – will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, with those over the age of 50 more likely to be afflicted by the condition.
Shares in AstraZeneca were up 3.1 per cent to £90.74 during the mid-afternoon on Monday, meaning their value has grown by more than a quarter over the last 12 months.
The firm’s annual results recently revealed it had fallen to a £196million loss in 2021 – down from a £2.9billion profit the year before – despite selling over £3billion of the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford.
Until last November, AstraZeneca vowed not to make a profit from its coronavirus vaccine by selling it at cost price, unlike other pharmaceutical giants such as Moderna and Pfizer.
However, it did achieve record revenues thanks to sales of drugs like lung cancer treatment Tagrisso surpassing $5billion and hiked its dividend for the first time in a decade.
Meanwhile, fellow blue-chip listed Dechra Pharmaceuticals revealed on Monday that its underlying revenue rose 10.9 per cent to £332.4million while operating profit increased by about a sixth to £93.2million in the second half of 2021.
The Cheshire-based group attributed its strong performance to a significant growth in sales of companion animal products, which was helpfully buoyed by healthy demand from its smaller equine and nutrition divisions.