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AstraZeneca's Asthma Drug in Focus, Phase III Study Initiated

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Investors in the pharma/biotech sector eagerly wait for pipeline updates as they play an important role in deciding whether or not to invest in a particular company. Pipelines are of prime importance as far as pharma/biotech companies which spend significant funds and time in advancing their pipelines.

Last week, AstraZeneca (AZN) provided an update on its pipeline. The company has initiated a phase III program for its asthma candidate, tralokinumab. The phase III program will assess the safety and efficacy of tralokinumab in reducing the rate of asthma exacerbations in adults and adolescents suffering from severe, inadequately controlled asthma despite receiving inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting β2-agonist.

The company initiated the phase III program on tralokinumab based on results from a phase IIb study, which were presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference in May.

AstraZeneca is also evaluating the candidate for the treatment of mild-to-moderate idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. A 72-week phase II study evaluating the efficacy and safety of tralokinumab is ongoing.

Our Take

We are pleased with the pipeline progress at AstraZeneca. If successfully developed and subsequently approved, tralokinumab will boost the company’s respiratory portfolio. AstraZeneca already has experience in marketing several products like Symbicort and Pulmicort in this area, which should prove beneficial if and when tralokinumab receives approval.

Currently approved asthma products include Merck & Co. Inc.’s (MRK) Singulair.

AstraZeneca presently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Endo International (ENDP) and Allergan (AGN). Both Allergan and Endo are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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