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AstraZeneca (AZN) Discontinues Brazikumab Development

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AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) announced the discontinuation of studies on its monoclonal antibody targeting IL23, brazikumab. The candidate was being studied for two indications, Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), under the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) development program.

A phase IIb/III INTREPID study was evaluating brazikumab for treating CD and a phase II EXPEDITION study for treating UC. The program also included the respective open-label extension studies of the INTREPID and EXPEDITION studies.

AstraZeneca cited evolving competitive landscape and the delayed regulatory timeline of brazikumab as reasons for discontinuing the IBD development program on brazikumab. The company further elaborated that the impact of regulatory delays on brazikumab’s development was irrecoverable due to global events.

In the year so far, shares of AstraZeneca have climbed 7.7% against the industry’s 1.9% decline.

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We would like to remind the investors that in 2016, AstraZeneca first entered into a licensing agreement with Allergan, now part of AbbVie (ABBV - Free Report) , for the global rights to brazikumab. However, in early 2020, AstraZeneca announced that it will regain the global rights to brazikumab from Allergan (now AbbVie).

The termination of the agreement with Allergan was due to Allergan’s decision to divest brazikumab in connection with its merger with AbbVie. AbbVie was contributing to the ongoing funding of brazikumab studies, but this funding will now end.

AstraZeneca’s another recent pipeline setback was the ALXN1840 program. The company announced that it is discontinuing the ALXN1840 program in Wilson Diseases based on the feedback from regulatory authorities which reviewed data from the phase III FoCus study and two phase II mechanistic studies.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

AstraZeneca currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A couple of better-ranked stocks in the overall medical sector are Novartis (NVS - Free Report) and Akero Therapeutics (AKRO - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the past 90 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Novartis’ 2023 earnings per share has increased from $6.52 to $6.67. In the year so far, shares of Novartis have increased 6.1%.

NVS beat estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, delivering an average earnings surprise of 5.15%.

In the past 90 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Akero Therapeutics’ 2023 loss per share has narrowed from $3.46 to $2.78. In the year so far, shares of Akero Therapeutics have fallen by 18.7%.

AKRO beat estimates in three of the trailing four quarters, missing the mark on one occasion, delivering an average earnings surprise of 7.96%. 

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