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The Good News Continues For AstraZeneca

The good news continues to pour in for shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN). I would like to highlight four key factors that make AZN a compelling low-risk play in today's turbulent marketplace. The article below will build on my previous article that can be seen here.

Brilinta

AZN received excellent news late last week with the approval of a new dose for Brilinta, AZN's new novel antiplatelet treatment.

BRILINTA® (ticagrelor) tablets at a new 60mg dose to be used in patients with a history of heart attack beyond the first year. With this expanded indication, BRILINTA is now approved to reduce the rate of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction (MI), also known as heart attack) and stroke in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or a history of MI.

The key factor here is Brilinta's head-to-head performance versus clopidogrel, its chief competitor in the space. If AZN fails to show meaningful improvement, the path to higher revenue is, in my opinion, officially blocked due to the premium pricing of Brilinta. In essence, PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers) need to see superior outcomes data to be willing to pay for the treatment. Brilinta (ticagrelor) outcomes data was superior to clopidogrel as evidenced by the following link. The main drawback is the dosing interval; the initial indication required a twice-a-day dosing that decreases end user compliance. Fortunately for AZN, the trial showed superior results at a new 60mg once-a-day dosing interval. The once-a-day dosing interval is vital for broader acceptance and compliance. Armed with a new dose and positive outcomes data, Brilinta has a clear runway ahead of it to achieve sales in excess of $1 billion. Keep in mind, total sales of Brilinta registered under $200 million last year.


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