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AstraZeneca Vaccine Update

Zacks Equity Research

Generic competition has adversely impacted AstraZeneca's (AZN) revenues over the past few quarters. This has put significant pressure on the company. AstraZeneca is looking towards cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line.

AstraZeneca is also working on re-vamping its pipeline. In a bid to add late-stage candidates to its pipeline, AstraZeneca entered into a number of acquisition deals (Pearl Therapeutics and Omthera Pharmaceuticals) in the last few months and struck agreements with companies like FibroGen, Inc.

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended the approval of the company’s quadrivalent spray nasal vaccine Fluenz Tetra. The CHMP recommended the approval of the vaccine for the prevention of seasonal influenza in children and adolescents aged between 24 months and 17 years.

The positive CHMP opinion was based on encouraging data from a pivotal pediatric study.

Fluenz Tetra contains two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B, which would provide an edge over currently marketed trivalent vaccine, Fluenz. If approved by the European Commission, Fluenz Tetra will be available from the 2014-2015 flu season instead of Fluenz.

We note that Fluenz Tetra is already marketed in the U.S. under the trade name FluMist Quadrivalent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) approved FluMist Quadrivalent in Feb 2012.

Currently approved quadrivalent influenza vaccines include GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Flulaval Quadrivalent and Sanofi’s (SNY) quadrivalent formulation of Fluzone.

AstraZeneca currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). At present, companies like Novo Nordisk (NVO) look well-positioned with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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