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Investors were bracing for failure after drug Imfinzi struggled in previous trials
Thursday 13 Dec 2018 Author: Lisa-Marie Janes

Astrazeneca (AZN) £60.80

Loss to date: 3.5%

Original entry point: Buy at £63, 15 Nov 2018

The failure of a Phase III clinical trial, reported on 7 December, has failed to knock AstraZeneca (AZN) off track. Its shares are even trading above the level at which it reported the setback with its Imfinzi drug (7 Dec) as there were low expectations given previous trial disappointments.

AstraZeneca says patients treated with Imfinzi monotherapy and the Imfinzi/tremelimumab combination were not significantly more likely to survive advanced head and neck cancer, compared to chemotherapy treatment.

When pharmaceutical companies fail Phase III trials, the response is generally harsher and in some cases can wipe off up to 75% of a firm’s market cap if it is a single product firm. Fortunately AstraZeneca has a big portfolio of drugs in development, and approved for sale, and its fortunes are not tied to a single event.

Analysts point out that Imfinzi still has potential as the company is testing the treatment for other forms of cancer in additional Phase III trials.

In the first half of 2019, results from the Phase III Kestrel trial of Imfinzi/tremelimumab are expected for metastatic skin cancer around the head and neck.

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