AstraZeneca shares reach four year high
25 July 2006 00:00 in Pharmaceutical Company Financials
Shares in AstraZeneca, the UK's second largest drugs company, reached a four-year high yesterday, after Symbicort, the anti-asthma drug, was approved by the US regulatory authorities earlier than expected.
Symbicort is a combination therapy consisting of an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and a long-lasting bronchodilator - a type of drug similar to GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Advair, with which Symbicort will go into direct competition.
The approval is seen as being important to AstraZeneca's medium-term future. The drug managed sales of over $1 billion (540 million pounds) in 2005 without having been sold in the US. Last month, David Brennan, AstraZeneca's chief executive, said the company would maximise the potential of existing drugs while working on developing new drugs.
AstraZeneca's short- to medium-term product pipeline has been marked recently by late-stage drug development cancellations, such as with Galida, a diabetes treatment, meaning that the company has five new products to rely on in the coming few years - not all of which are guaranteed to be approved.
Mr Brennan remarked: "We are very pleased that the FDA has approved Symbicort in the United States."
Some analysts predict that Symbicort could prove to be a very successful competitor to GSK's Advair. Jerry Brimeyer, an analyst with Dresdner Kleinwort, told Reuters: "We believe Symbicort will expand the asthma drug market as well as take share from Advair because the AstraZeneca drug is fast-acting and long-acting, whereas the GlaxoSmithKline drug is long-acting only."
Symbicort is already in widespread use in the EU and AstraZeneca said it expects to market the drug from mid-2007.© Adfero Ltd
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