AstraZeneca’s heart drug Brilinta failed to work as hoped in key stroke trial. The British drug maker said on Wednesday that the blood-thinner did not provide more benefits than aspirin in preventing consequent attacks in the 90 days after patients experienced a stroke.

The news represented a blow to AstraZeneca’s expectations that Brilinta would achieve annual sales of $3.5 billion by 2023, a fact that will surely disappoint investors. In the trial, fewer patients taking the drug had a recurrent stroke, experienced a heart attack or died than those taking aspirin, but the results were not statistically significant.

AstraZeneca’s heart drug Brilinta failed to work as hoped in key stroke trial. Credit:

Brilinta represented an important part of a $45 billion revenue target the company announced as a defensive action against a takeover bid from Pfizer in 2014, as reported by Reuters. The drug’s sales in 2015 were $619 million.

“It’s a setback but at this stage we are not providing any new guidance on the overall ($3.5 billion) number,” head of AstraZeneca’s Brilinta business Ludovic Helfgott told Reuters.

The trial was named SOCRATES and will be presented at the European Stroke Organization scheduled for May 10-12 in Barcelona, Helfgott said.

Richard Parkes, a Deutsche Bank analyst, said he had reduced his 2022 Brilinta sales forecast by $350 million to $1.9 billion in the light of the failure.

SOCRATES did not have any new safety problems, a positive aspect given that there is concern among doctors because such drugs are known for their risks of bleeding.

Still betting for Brilinta

Elisabeth Bjork, the company’s head of medicines development for cardiovascular and metabolic disease, said the result in SOCRATES has not affected the rest of the program. She expressed the team still had high expectations about Brilinta’s potential.

Results from a separate trial (EUCLID) evaluating Brilinta in peripheral arterial disease are set to be released in the second half of this year.

Brilinta has already green light in several countries to reduce the rate of adverse CV events in patients who have experienced a heart attack.

Source: Reuters