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AZN's FluMist Quadrivalent Approved

Zacks Equity Research

Recently AstraZeneca (AZN) announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) has approved FluMist Quadrivalent (influenza vaccine live, intranasal). FluMist Quadrivalent, for the prevention of influenza, marks the first approval of a four-strain influenza vaccine in the US. FluMist Quadrivalent is a vaccine which is sprayed into the nose and can be used in people in the age group of 2 – 49 years.

FluMist Quadrivalent contains two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B, thus providing it with an edge over the currently available trivalent FluMist version. FluMist trivalent contains two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B.  However, we note that FluMist Quadrivalent may not provide 100% protection against influenza.

AstraZeneca reported that FluMist sales for the full year 2011 were $161 million. We expect that the approval of FluMist Quadrivalent will enable the company to solidify its position in the market.

This is the second product approval for AstraZeneca in the past few weeks. Last month, AstraZeneca had announced that Caprelsa has been approved in the EU for the treatment of aggressive and symptomatic medullary thyroid cancer in patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic disease. In Europe, Caprelsa is the first approved therapy for this indication.

Neutral on AstraZeneca

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on AstraZeneca. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run.

Even though we are encouraged by the strong cardiovascular franchise at AstraZeneca and the company’s focus on the high-potential emerging markets, we remain concerned about the generic competition faced by its key products. AstraZeneca is looking to lessen the impact of genericization by revamping its cost structure through restructuring initiatives. We are pleased with the recent approvals obtained by the company.

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