AstraZeneca shares fall 8% after disappointing trial results for its new lung cancer drug
AstraZeneca shares took a hit after data from a highly anticipated clinical trial suggested a lung cancer drug might not work as well as expected.
The pharmaceutical giant said there were a number of “Grade 5 events” with its trials for datopotamab deruxtecan.
Grade 5 events mean that patients died during the clinical trial and this is likely to raise fears about the safety of the drug.
The news sent AstraZeneca share it was down 8 percent, or 902p, to 10,374p.
Setbacks: AstraZeneca said there were a number of ‘Grade 5 events’ with its trials for the lung cancer drug datopotamab deruxtecan
The fact that the company, which is developing the drug together with the Japanese group Daiichi Sankyo, did not announce that the results were “clinically significant” was also a blow to investors, who hope that the treatment will be as successful as the other AstraZeneca’s cancer drug, Enhertu. .
Some analysts have estimated the drug could generate up to £14.2bn in sales, and AstraZeneca has already agreed to pay £4.7bn to Daiichi Sankyo for the rights to develop the treatment.
But broker Stifel said that while the adverse side effects might be considered “manageable” by lung cancer specialists, he hoped the company had learned from previous experience to “help and limit such outcomes.”
He added that the lack of “clinically significant” data, as well as patient deaths during the trial, would raise questions about the “magnitude of benefit” of the drug versus existing treatments.
Despite this, Susan Galbraith, head of cancer research at AstraZeneca, said the results provided “compelling evidence” that the drug could play a role in the treatment of lung cancer.
The firm plans to continue the trial and collect more data on the overall survival of patients using the drug, before publishing the full results.
Datopotamab deruxtecan is an antibody-drug conjugate, a method of treating chemotherapy to make it more effective and reduce its side effects.
Doctors and scientists are trying to move away from the current method of chemotherapy that involves exposing the entire body, killing both cancer cells and healthy ones.
In the trial, AstraZeneca said datopotamab deruxtecan could stop disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer for longer than the current standard treatment, a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel.