Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately and today was no different after announcing its neck and head cancer drug trial failed to meet expectations.

The shares were unchanged at £73.80 but have dropped 13% over the last three months.

A phase three trial (KESTREL) enrolled 750,000 patients from around the world who were diagnosed with neck and head cancer to take part in a randomised trial of AstraZeneca’s human monoclonal antibody Imfinzi in combination with a second immunotherapy, tremelimumab.

A randomised trial assigns each participant randomly to either the experimental group which receive the drug or the control group which receive a harmless placebo.

Randomisation washes out any population bias and provides more reliable results.

Immunotherapy is an approach designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack tumours.

Executive vice president of oncology Dave Fredrickson said: ‘While we are disappointed by these results, insights from the KESTREL Phase III trial will advance our understanding and application of immunotherapy across our clinical development programme.’

Imfinzi is part of a broad programme to test its effectiveness against a range of different types of cancer. The drug is already approved for use in non-small cell lung cancer after chemoradiation therapy in the EU, US, Japan, China and other countries.


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Issue Date: 05 Feb 2021