LONDON, Sept 4 AstraZeneca has reversed
a previous pre-tax impairment charge of $285 million after
launching a final-stage Phase III clinical trial for the
experimental drug olaparib in ovarian cancer.
The drug had earlier looked unlikely to get to market but
confidence in its prospects has revived following more recent
tests. AstraZeneca said on Wednesday that the reversal of the
charge would be excluded from core earnings.
Britain's second-biggest drugmaker took the $285 million hit
in December 2011 under its previous chief executive, David
Brennan, when it decided not to progress olaparib into final
But new analysis has shown the drug could help certain
patients with a particular mutation of the so-called BRCA gene.
The finding underscores the increasingly focused nature of
cancer drug development, in which treatments are tailored to the
genetic profile of particular sub-groups of patients.
Olaparib is one of the products in which new CEO Pascal
Soriot has taken a keen interest as he tries to accelerate
AstraZeneca's oncology programmes.
Soriot - who joined from the world's biggest cancer drug
company, Roche, last year - views oncology as a key
area for revitalising the drugmaker's currently thin pipeline of
late-stage developmental medicines.
The company badly needs new products to revive its sales
line because its current top sellers have lost, or are about to
lose, patent protection.
AstraZeneca previously said at an investor day in March that
it expected to start a Phase III trial on olaparib sometime in
Myriad Genetics is providing companion diagnostics
to test for BRCA mutation for use with olaparib. BRCA genes
belong to a type of genes known as tumour suppressors and their
mutation has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian