AstraZeneca takes £300m hit after decision to scrap drug — (Manchester Evening News)

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Manchester Evening News

    

More than £300m was wiped off AstraZeneca’s market value after the drugs giant said it would take a $50m hit following its decision to scrap an experimental antidepressant.

The Anglo-Swedish company, which employs more than 6,000 people across two sites in Cheshire, said the drug, licensed from Targacept, had failed in remaining phase three clinical trials.

Patients who took the treatment did not respond adequately, Astra said.

As a result, Astra and Targacept will not pursue a regulatory filing for the treatment, which was earmarked as an add-on therapy for people suffering from depression.

The companies signed a collaboration and licence agreement in December 2009 for the global development and commercialisation of the antidepressant.

Astra said it would take an impairment charge representing the remaining value of the drug.

Astra’s shares fell 0.86 per cent, or 24.5p, to 2833.5p after the announcement, wiping more than £300m off its market value of £36.112bn.

The treatment had seen positive results in a phase two study but its development was dealt a blow last year when the first two of its phase three trials failed, leading to an impairment charge of nearly $100m.

Experts said the news was another setback for Astra’s pipeline of drugs as it faces the looming loss of patent protection on existing top-sellers.