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Amgen/AstraZeneca Asthma Candidate Tezepelumab Shows Promise

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Amgen Inc. (AMGN - Free Report) and AstraZeneca plc (AZN - Free Report) announced that their pipeline candidate tezepelumab reduced annual asthma exacerbation rate (“AAER”), a measure of deterioration of asthma, in PATHWAY study in patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma. Tezepelumab, an anti-thymic stromal lymphopoietin monoclonal antibody, is being studied in the phase IIb PATHWAY study.

The results from the study were also published by the New England Journal of Medicine and will be presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress 2017 in Milan.

Amgen’s shares are up 22% so far this year, outperforming the industry’s gain of 15.7% in that period.

AstraZeneca’s shares have underperformed its industry so far this year. The company rose 11% while the industry gained 12.6% in the period.

The PATHWAY study compared three doses of the candidate – 70 mg or 210 mg every four weeks or 280 mg every two weeks – to a placebo. Tezepelumab was administered as an add-on therapy in patients who have experienced asthma exacerbations and uncontrolled asthma despite treatment with asthma controllers like corticosteroids. Data from the study demonstrated that tezepelumab achieved significant reduction in AAER when compared to placebo. In fact, the candidate showed a reduction of 61%, 71% and 66% for 70 mg, 210 mg and 280 mg doses, respectively.

Tezepelumab has also achieved significant and clinically meaningful reductions in the exacerbation rate irrespective of baseline blood eosinophil count. It also improved lung function at all doses and in asthma control at the two higher doses.

Per the press release, around 315 million people are affected with asthma globally with up to 10% of them having severe asthma, which can become uncontrolled despite receiving high doses of standard of care medicines. These uncontrolled asthma patients then can, in addition, be treated with chronic oral corticosteroids. Tezepelumab can help these patients to control further deterioration of the disease.

However, the asthma market is crowded with treatments like GlaxoSmithKline plc’s (GSK - Free Report) Nucala and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited’s (TEVA - Free Report) Cinqair available. Moreover, AstraZeneca itself is developing benralizumab for treating asthma.

Amgen Inc. Price and Consensus


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Amgen and AstraZeneca currently have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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