AstraZeneca publishes data on cancer drugs ahead of first-quarter results

<p>The pharmaceutical company has received a boost with promising data on experimental treatments for cancer.</p>

AstraZeneca is due to release its first-quarter results next week during its annual meeting.

Although sales of many of the company's bestsellers have been down, due to competition from generic drugs, the company has recently seen a boost as some of its experimental treatments seem to be doing well.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has recently published promising data on an experimental lung cancer pill called AZD9291. Research has shown that the pill can delay disease progression by more than a year.

It's expected that the company will file for approval of AZD9291 in the coming weeks. AstraZeneca estimates that sales of the pill could bring in up to $3 billion (£2 billion) a year, and the company is hoping to bring a total of six new cancer medicines to the market by 2020.

Selumetinib, a treatment for a rare eye cancer is also moving closer to regulatory approval in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration has granted the treatment orphan drug status and this is expected to smooth the treatment's path to full regulatory approval. If successful, it will be the first treatment for uveal melanoma.

Another drug, called tremelimumab, has also recently won orphan drug status in the US. This is a treatment for mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is often associated with exposure to asbestos.

There have also been positive developments for the company's heart drug Brilinta, which has shown potential for wider use. Meanwhile, the firm's diabetes medicine Onglyza received a boost earlier in the week after a panel in the US advised against prescription restrictions.

Analysts at Credit Suisse told the Guardian that AstraZeneca is the most exposed of the EU's major pharma companies, due to many of its drugs approaching patent expiry.

"There will be particular focus on [cancer conference] ASCO, where data from all of the immune-oncology companies will shape investors' views on AstraZeneca's relative position," the analysts explained.

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