AstraZeneca tops FTSE 100 after positive cancer drug trial

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AstraZeneca is outperforming its peers this morning after the pharma giant announced positive results in one of its key drug trials for cancer.

The pharmaceutical company said that its trial drug, Lynparza, had shown “a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement” in survival rates for patients with a certain strain of breast cancer.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said the successful trial results were “highly encouraging” for the development of its broad portfolio, adding that it would now work with regulators to make the drug available to patients with the specific type of breast cancer treated by the drug.

Shares in the group were up more than 2 per cent on Friday morning, making it the strongest performer in the FTSE 100.

Analysts at Berenberg said that “blockbuster sales” of the Lynparza drug, which is already approved for a core type of ovarian cancer, looked achievable, with a potential 75 per cent uplift in addressable patients if the drug is rolled out to breast cancer patients as well. Lynparza generated sales of $218m for AstraZeneca last year.

They wrote in a note:

The AstraZeneca turnaround story largely hinges on what happens to its oncology portfolio and progress with Lynparza is an important element of that turnaround.

Revenues at AstraZeneca dropped 5 per cent last year amid faltering sales of Crestor, its best-selling cholesterol medication. The company expects “low to mid single-digit” percentage declines for total revenue this year.

Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald said that AstraZeneca had previously indicated that Lynparza had a $2bn market potential, arguing that the successful trial put the drug back on track for peak sales potential and that its roll out to breast cancer patients would be “a significant addition to the overall franchise”.

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