AZ puts Brilinta up for another head-to-head fight with Plavix

AstraZeneca doesn't shy from a challenge. The drugmaker ($AZN) has launched a study comparing its clot-fighter Brilinta with the standard bloodthinner treatment Plavix, in patients with peripheral artery disease. It's just the latest head-to-head study pitting Brilinta against Plavix, which recently went generic.

The aim, of course, is to nab Plavix market share for Brilinta, which was approved last year. And that's no easy feat, now that cheap generics are available. But if AZ can show Brilinta to be superior for these patients, then the much-newer drug can capitalize on that data with sales at branded prices. With big drugs falling off patent and few promising products in its late-stage pipeline, AstraZeneca needs all the help from Brilinta that it can get.

As Reuters notes, AstraZeneca has already had some success comparing Brilinta with Plavix. One study gave Brilinta an edge over Plavix in patients with acute coronary syndrome, which happens to be Brilinta's FDA-approved target market. Analysts have said the drug could hit $1.2 billion in sales by 2016.

The new study will encompass 11,500 patients age 50 or older at sites around the globe. It will compare twice-daily dosing of Brilinta with once-daily Plavix, known generically as clopidogrel. If successful, Brilinta could gain a new indication from the research; AstraZeneca said some 27 million people suffer from peripheral artery disease in Europe and North America.

- read the Bloomberg story
- get more from Reuters