* Brilinta fails to show benefit over clopidogrel in PAD
* Follows failure of heart drug in stroke trial in March
* Drugmaker sells rights to Toprol-XL for up to $223 mln
(Adds sales forecasts, detail on Toprol-XL deal with Aralez)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Oct 4 AstraZeneca's heart drug
Brilinta has failed to help patients with serious circulatory
problems in their legs, dealing a blow to a medicine that the
company has tipped as a potential $3.5 billion-a-year seller by
AstraZeneca said on Tuesday that Brilinta failed to
show a benefit over the older blood thinner clopidogrel in
treating peripheral artery disease (PAD) in a large-scale
clinical trial. PAD usually affects the legs.
Clopidogrel is the generic name of Sanofi's former
blockbuster drug Plavix, which is now off patent.
The setback follows similar disappointing results in March
with the same AstraZeneca pill in another big trial in stroke
patients. Both studies were designed to open up new markets for
Brilinta beyond its current use in heart attack patients.
Sean Bohen, AstraZeneca's head of global medicines
development and chief medical officer, said he was disappointed
that the so-called EUCLID trial had failed but added: "The
proven benefits of Brilinta in acute coronary syndrome and
post-myocardial infarction (heart attack) patients are
established and remain unchanged."
Full results from the EUCLID trial, which involved 13,885
patients, are expected to be presented at the American Heart
Association annual meeting in New Orleans in November.
A positive result could have boosted consensus forecasts for
Brilinta, which currently stand at an annual $2.1 billion for
2021, according to Thomson Reuters data.
During its defence against a takeover bid from Pfizer
in 2014, AstraZeneca gave a projection of Brilinta sales
reaching $3.5 billion by 2023, making it an important part of a
$45 billion revenue target announced by the company at the time.
Brilinta's sales in 2015 were $619 million.
Separately, AstraZeneca also announced it had agreed to sell
the U.S. rights its old beta-blocker heart drug Toprol-XL to
Aralez Pharmaceuticals, marking the latest move by the
British company to divest non-core businesses as it focuses on
bringing out newer medicines, especially for cancer.
Aralez will pay AstraZeneca $175 million upfront to acquire
the rights to Toprol-XL tablets in the United States, and the
authorised generic medicine marketed by Par Pharmaceuticals. It
will also pay up to $48 million in milestone and sales-related
payments, as well as mid-teen percentage royalties on sales.
(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton
and Louise Heavens)