June 24, 2020 / 6:30 PM / 18 days ago

AstraZeneca eyes three-drug inhaler opportunity after trial results

FILE PHOTO: The logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - AstraZeneca is eyeing the further growth of its respiratory treatments business as a three-drug inhaler was shown to prevent flare-ups and death in cases of smoker’s lung.

AstraZeneca said on Wednesday that the ETHOS trial of triple-drug therapy Breztri Aerosphere, formerly known as PT010, helped patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as it seeks to catch up with the runaway success of rival Glaxosmithkline’s Trelegy Ellipta drug.

Breztri was shown to reduce the risk of a recurrence in flare-ups, or exacerbations, by between 13% and 24% when compared to standard two-drug inhalers, and cut the risk of death from all causes by 46%, the company said.

Colloquially known as smoker’s lung, COPD is a progressively worsening and potentially deadly condition that affects more than 380 million people worldwide, primarily caused by smoking but also by occupational hazards such as air pollution or chemical fumes.

Prior studies last year secured Breztri Aerosphere the regulatory go-ahead as a COPD therapy in Japan and China, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said more data was required for an approval.

Astra now hopes the fresh read-outs will convince the FDA to secure U.S. approval in the second half of 2020, said AstraZeneca senior executive team member Mene Pangalos.

GSK’s Trelegy Ellipta saw sales from COPD more than triple to 518 million pounds ($646 million) last year. Trimbow by unlisted Chiesi of Italy is another competitor in the European market.

“There’s plenty of room for more than one molecule, we think we have a best in class molecule,” said Pangalos, adding the inhaled drug had potential to become a blockbuster, an industry term for more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Sales of Astra’s respiratory drugs rose 10% last year, while oncology drugs saw a 44% surge in revenues.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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