AstraZeneca’s Farxiga passes late-stage heart failure test

(Reuters) – British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Tuesday its diabetes drug Farxiga was successful in reducing the risk of death by heart attack or the worsening of a type of heart failure in a late-stage clinical trial.

The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Farxiga met the main goal of the DAPA-HF trial which tested the medicine, in addition to the standard treatment, in patients whose heart cannot pump enough blood. The trial included patients with and without type-2 diabetes.

The results are welcome news for AstraZeneca after U.S. regulators declined to approved Farxiga for use as a supplement to insulin in adults with type-1 diabetes where insulin alone was not able to control blood sugar levels.

Diabetes is associated with a high risk of heart failure. Heart failure affects about 64 million people worldwide and half of patients die within five years of diagnosis, AstraZeneca said.

“This (the study results) will give the drug broad applicability and is strong validation of its utility, particularly in diabetics,” Liberum analysts said.

“The result will also reinforce Farxiga’s utility in diabetes at a time when oral GLP-1 might enter the market,” they added, referring to a rival group of drugs.

Farxiga belongs to a class of medicines called SGLT2 inhibitors, which control blood sugar levels by causing the kidneys to expel sugar from the body through urine.

GLP-1 drugs, on the other hand, imitate an intestinal hormone that stimulates the production of insulin. Danish insulin producer Novo Nordisk has already grabbed a chunk of the diabetes market with its GLP-1 drug Ozempic here.

Farxiga, one of AstraZeneca’s top 10 drugs by sales, is already approved for use in type-2 diabetes, the more common form of the condition.

AstraZeneca shares were up 1.6% at 7,397 pence as of 0827 GMT.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Mark Potter

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