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AstraZeneca shares rise on Japanese approval of heart disease treatment

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) watched its shares rise on Monday, on news that its Forxiga chronic heart failure treatment has been approved in Japan.

The company said that heart failure affects around 64 million people worldwide, with at least half of whom suffering from a reduced ejection fraction (when the left ventricle cannot contract adequately and therefore expels less oxygenated blood into the body). The new treatment will aid in chronic sufferers of reduced ejection fraction, with the recent approval by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare based on positive results from the DAPA-HF Phase III trial.

Masafumi Kitakaze, Director of Hanwa Daini Senboku Hospital, Guest Professor of the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Osaka and Investigator of the DAPA-HF Phase III trial in Japan, said: “Heart failure is a condition affecting 1.3 million people in Japan. Many patients have considerably reduced heart function, such as left ventricular reduced ejection fraction. Approximately half of patients will die within five years of diagnosis, which is worse than some cancers. With no known cure except for heart transplant, a new effective treatment option on top of the current standard of care may offer hope for people struggling with this disease and a new tool for cardiologists.”

Forxiga is the first sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor to have illustrated a statistically significant reduction in the risk of composite cardiovascular death or worsening of heart failure events. The Phase II trial showed that Forxiga reduced the risk of the composite outcome versus placebo by 26%, with the treatment’s safety profile consistent with the well-established safety profile of the medicine.  

Already approved in the US, Europe and elsewhere, AstraZeneca said the treatment is advancing cardiorenal prevention, with Forxiga also being tested as part of DapaCare – a trial programme designed to assess its potential in treating kidney conditions.

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Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, added: “Forxiga’s efficacy in reducing the risk of cardiovascular death or worsening of heart failure events could result in life-saving benefits for many heart failure patients in Japan. Today’s approval will shift the way we manage the disease by providing a treatment option that is urgently needed to improve outcomes and symptoms for these patients.”

Following the update, AstraZeneca shares rallied 2.15%, up to 7,894p 30/11/20 14:18 GMT. This is short of its recent high of 8,785p on November 11, and some 7.04% short of analysts’ consensus target price of 8,450p.

Analysts currently have a consensus Hold rating on the stock, while the Marketbeat community has a 52.32% ‘Underperform’ stance on the company. The Group has a p/e ratio of 41.82, and a dividend yield of 2.70%.

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