AZ plots outcomes study with new bloodthinner

Now that AstraZeneca has European approval for its new blood thinner Brilinta, it's looking to bolster long-term support for the drug. The company is plotting a new, 21,000-patient outcomes study, to test whether long-term use of the drug in heart-attack patients would prevent future problems.

AZ will be testing whether the drug, used with aspirin, prevents heart attacks, strokes, or cardiovascular death. If Brilinta proves effective at staving off these problems in high-risk patients, that could extend common use of clotbusters beyond the current one-year threshold. Longer use, of course, equals higher sales, and AZ no doubt is hoping that good outcomes data would help Brilinta--to be sold as Brilique in the E.U.--capture a healthy share of that increase.

The study--costly to conduct--is a risk; as Bloomberg points out, a similar study of the Sanofi-Aventis/Bristol-Myers Squibb drug Plavix didn't deliver. But AZ has traveled this road before. It ran an outcomes study of its statin drug Crestor in patients with normal cholesterol, and that risk paid off with the potential to expand use of the drug to thousands, if not millions, more patients. And it's in the throes of a head-to-head study pitting Crestor against Pfizer's Lipitor, which goes off patent next year.

- read the AZ release
- get more from Bloomberg
- check out the Reuters news

ALSO: Several generic drugmakers have launched cheap copies of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) top-selling heartburn and ulcer treatment Nexium in Germany, in a move that will hit its revenues in Europe's biggest market. Report