An injectable biotech treatment developed by Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) and AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) for severe asthma promises to offer help to more patients compared to existing medicines such as GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) Nucala. This was evident from a clinical trial conducted on 684 patients.
Results of the clinical trial showed that the experimental treatment tezepelumab caused a drop in incidences of exacerbations or serious asthma attacks by between 61% and 71%. Effects were dependent on the dose. The results from the trial could place tezepelumab in a lead position against its competitors as the final-stage trials beckon.
“Tezepelumab appears to be the broadest and most promising biologic for the treatment of persistent uncontrolled asthma to date,” said Academic Medical Center’s Elisabeth Bel in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial.
Bel however warned the researchers that it was necessary to find out the safety profile of the treatment in bigger trials. This is because theoretically there was a risk that tezepelumab could impact the immune system negatively leading to infections.
Severe asthma injections have led to the opening up of a market that is worth billions of dollars as rival pharmaceutical companies engage in a race aimed at developing anti-body based treatments for about 15%of the asthma patient population that responds poorly to even the latest inhalers. After years of advances in treatment standard therapies have turned out to be ineffective to these patients. Most of the standard therapies comprise of inhaled drugs and steroids which are meant to open air pathways.
Narrow range of patients
Cinqair, which has been developed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA), and Nucala recently got approved as injectable drugs. Others that are likely to join these drugs include Dupixent which was developed by Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) and which received approval for the treatment of severe eczema is also a strong contender.
These new treatments however seem to be only helping patients suffering from particular severe asthma types and are thus only suitable for subgroups. Tezepelumab stands out from these in that it is applicable for a bigger group of patients.
On Wednesday shares of AstraZeneca plc rose by 0.90% to close the day at $30.34 a share.