Astellas Pharma, Inc.
) shares gained 2.5% following the company's update on its pipeline
late last week. The company also provided a comprehensive overview
of its initiatives towards innovation, research and development and
its corporate strategy.
Astellas is currently focused on the development of its oncology
pipeline. In May 2014, Astellas and partner
) received priority review status for Xtandi from the FDA for the
treatment of patients suffering from advanced prostate cancer who
are chemotherapy-naive. A response from the FDA should be out by
Sep 18, 2014.
Xtandi is already approved for the treatment of metastatic
castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients who have been
treated with Taxotere previously. In 2013, U.S. net sales for
Xtandi were $392.4 million.
According to Medivation, there is stronger-than-expected demand
in the market for pre-chemotherapy treatment for mCRPC patients. On
its first quarter call, Medivation said that a majority of
physicians consider Xtandi as the preferred choice of treatment in
the post-chemo setting. Approval for Xtandi for chemotherapy-naive
advanced prostate cancer patients will expand the eligible patient
population and boost Xtandi's sales significantly.
Additionally, in a phase II study roxadustat showed efficacy in
anemia correction and maintenance in dialysis as well as
non-dialysis patients suffering from chronic kidney disease.
Roxadustat is currently in a phase III study for this indication in
Europe. Astellas' VESIcare/Myrbetriq combination is also in a phase
III study for the treatment of overactive bladder.
Meanwhile, the company is preparing to initiate a phase III program
on ASP015K for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
We note that Astellas has a collaboration agreement with
) for the development and commercialization of five of Amgen's
candidates in Japan, which includes rilotumumab (gastric cancer),
evolocumab (hyperlipidemia) and romosozumab (osteoporosis).
Astellas carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in
the health care sector is
Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
), carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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