gets lift in Pfizer fight as U.S. okays heart pill
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[May 06, 2014]
By Ben Hirschler
— AstraZeneca Plc has won
U.S. approval for Epanova, a new pill for heart disease, providing a
welcome - but relatively minor - piece of good news as it fights a
$106 billion takeover approach from Pfizer Inc.
Epanova will be entering a crowded market for fish
oil-based cardiovascular drugs, limiting its commercial potential.
However, the fact that AstraZeneca secured approval on schedule is a
sign that the company is delivering on its pipeline hopes.
“This approval is a significant milestone for AstraZeneca, as it
strengthens our existing portfolio of cardiovascular medicines,"
Briggs Morrison, global head of medicines development, said in a
Industry analysts, on average, expect Epanova sales to reach a
relatively modest $322 million a year by 2018, according to Thomson
The new pill is designed for treating people with very high levels
of fatty triglycerides in their blood and was originally developed
by Omthera Pharmaceuticals, which AstraZeneca acquired last year for
up to $443 million.
The acquisition was one of a series by Chief Executive Pascal Soriot
to revive AstraZeneca's fortunes through bolt-on deals.
Epanova is an ultra-pure mixture of the free fatty acid forms of
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), derived
from fish oil.
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The new drug will compete with other fish oil-based medicines
such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Lovaza, which now faces cut-price
generic competition, and Amarin Corp Plc's Vascepa.
AstraZeneca also hopes to develop a fixed-dose combination of its
cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor and Epanova. The new combination,
if successful, would help extend the Crestor franchise beyond 2016,
when the drug's U.S. patent ends.
(Editing by Louise Heavens)
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