AZN Reports Data on Fostamatinib

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AstraZeneca (AZN) announced top-line data from the phase III study (OSKIRA-1: n = 923) on its rheumatoid arthritis (:RA) candidate fostamatinib. The study assessed the safety and efficacy of the candidate for a period of 24 weeks.

The study evaluated two dosing regimens of fostamatinib, 100 mg twice daily and 100 mg twice daily for four weeks followed by 150 mg once daily, in combination with methotrexate versus methotrexate along with placebo.

The study revealed mixed results on fostamatinib. While fostamatinib demonstrated significant improvement in the signs and symptoms of RA, measured using American College of Rheumatology (:ACR) 20 response rates, it did not show a statistically significant difference in modified total sharp score (mTSS).

Data from two other studies on fostamatinib, OSKIRA-2 and OSKIRA-3, are expected in the second quarter of 2013. We note that AstraZeneca licensed the candidate from Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (RIGL) in Feb 2010.

Last month AstraZeneca initiated a major overhaul of its R&D and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) segments. As per the proposed plans, the company’s R&D activities will be primarily centered in three facilities including UK (Cambridge), US (Gaithersburg) and Sweden (Mölndal).

The proposed initiative will result in relocation and termination of approximately 2,500 and 1,600 roles, respectively, in the 2013-2016 timeframe and cost approximately $1.4 billion. The SG&A segment will also be optimized with the help of restructuring activities, which will result in the termination of approximately 2,300 employees.

AstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Meanwhile, stocks such as Athersys, Inc. (ATHX) and Cytokinetics Inc. (CYTK) carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and are worth considering.

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