AstraZeneca to discontinue Epanova trial, expects $100 million writedown

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Monday it will discontinue a late-stage trial for heart disease drug Epanova to treat patients with mixed dyslipidaemia and expects a $100 million writedown to hit its core profit in the fourth quarter.

The biggest British drugmaker by market value said the decision, which followed recommendations from an independent data monitoring committee, was due to low likelihood of Epanova’s benefit to patients with mixed dyslipidaemia.

“We are disappointed by these results, but we remain committed to addressing the needs of patients in the cardiovascular space where we have an extensive pipeline,” Mene Pangalos, the executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development, said.

Mixed dyslipidaemia is characterized by abnormal levels of cholesterol and fatty substances in the blood known as triglycerides.

AstraZeneca added Epanova, which is already approved in the United States to reduce high levels of triglyceride, to its pipeline when it bought U.S.-based Omthera Pharmaceuticals in 2013 to build up its cardiovascular drug business.

Shares in the company opened half a percentage point lower on the London Stock Exchange, lagging wider gains in the UK market.

In a separate statement, AstraZeneca and Merck said their ovarian cancer drug Lynparza, in combination with bevacizumab, has been granted priority review status in the U.S. and a decision on its approval is set for the second quarter this year.

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber