Arthritis and lupus data a shot in arm for AstraZeneca

LONDON Mon May 12, 2014 12:30pm EDT

LONDON May 12 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca, fighting a $106 billion bid approach from Pfizer, received a fillip on Monday as two experimental drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus met their goals in mid-stage clinical trials.

Mavrilimumab produced a rapid improvement in signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, while sifalimumab reduced disease activity in patients with lupus in Phase IIb tests, the drugmaker said.

Both new drugs were developed by MedImmune, the U.S.-based biotech company acquired by AstraZeneca in 2007 that is responsible for many of the more promising compounds in the British company's pipeline.

The two drugs were among those highlighted by AstraZeneca management in a presentation last week, designed to prove the group had a bright future as an independent concern. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Goodman)

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