LONDON Nov 24 GlaxoSmithKline has
started pivotal trials of an experimental anaemia drug, chasing
AstraZeneca in the race to develop a medicine that
mimics the body's response to high altitude.
GSK's daprodustat, given as a pill, is designed to displace
injectable EPO products that are used widely in patients with
chronic kidney disease. EPO, which boosts red blood cells, is
also infamous as a doping agent in sport.
The new drugs work by copying the body's response to
hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, by increasing the natural
production of EPO in the kidneys.
GSK said on Thursday its two Phase III clinical studies
would enrol a combined total of 7,500 patients with kidney
The trials will look at daprodustat's effect on anaemia and
also assess cardiovascular safety, given the heart risks
associated with current injectable EPO.
AstraZeneca's roxadustat pill, which is being developed with
FibroGen and Astellas, is already in a Phase
III testing programme involving more than 8,000 patients. In
China, the trials have been completed and roxadustat is now set
for regulatory submission.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Alexander Smith)