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AstraZeneca heart treatment ìhigh riskî

AstraZeneca's has revealed that its heart drug, AGI-1067, is a ìvery high-risk projectî, raising concerns over the British number two's current pipeline status

AstraZeneca's (AZ) has revealed that its heart drug, AGI-1067, is a ìvery high-risk projectî, raising concerns over the British number two's current pipeline status.

AGI-1067 is an anti-inflammatory atherosclerosis treatment for heart attacks and stroke. If successful, the molecule could achieve blockbuster status and bring in sales of billions of dollars a year.

AZ CEO, David Brennan admitted to the Times: ìWe have a low probability of success from our perspective. We believe there is a possibility that it could work, based on phase II data. It's the same reasons we went forward with NXY-059.î

After a number of late-stage drug failures, AZ has few treatments remaining. When the company admitted that NXY-059 did not work, its shares plummeted.

ìIf we get it, it will be significant. If we don't, we have three other products in our pipeline that we are moving along in phase II - two oncology products and a platelet inhibitor - and we are actively looking for others,î claimed Brennan.

AGI-1067 could reach the market in 2008, if phase III clinical trials show efficacy. City analysts are not so sure. While they believe the drug may generate peak sales of up to $5 billion (£2.6 billion) annually, they have adjusted their forecasts from $500 million (£254.8 million) to $1 billion (£509.6 million) to reflect the high risk of failure.

In 2005, AZ signed a $50 million licensing deal for the rights to AGI-167 with specialty US pharmaceutical company, Athero-Genics.

30th September 2008

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