AstraZeneca could slash £2bn R&D budget over NHS spending cap

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27/03/2017

AstraZeneca says cost-saving plans for NHS could cause it to cut its £2bn-a-year R&D spend in the UK.

Proposals that would see the introduction of new drugs to the NHS delayed by up to three years have received the thumbs down from the pharmaceutical firm, which is currently building a new global headquarters on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mene Pangalos, AZ's executive vice-president of innovative medicines, said the news was "demoralising" for staff and "devastating" for patients.

"Our medicines are getting used everywhere in the world but not here," said Pangalos.

"It could see us investing in R&D over the long-term."

Meanwhile AZ's share price got a boost from the news that a study has shown one of its new classes of therapy reduces the instances of death and hospitalisation for heart failure in type-2 diabetes patients.

The study of 300,000 patients showed that treatment with the SGLT-2i medicines - Farxiga (dapagliflozin), canagliflozin, empagliflozin - reduced the rate of hospitalisation for heart failure by 39 per cent and death from any cause by 51 per cent compared to other type-2 diabetes medicines. For the composite endpoint of hospitalisation for heart failure and death from any cause, the reduction was 46 per cent.

Bruce Cooper, managing director, vice president and head of global medical affairs at AstraZeneca, said: “Diabetes is a growing epidemic worldwide, which is associated with significant comorbidities that contribute to an increased risk of costly hospitalisations and even death.

"Real-world data from this study provides striking evidence that the newer SGLT-2i class of medicines cuts the rate of hospitalisations for heart failure and death by approximately half. CVD-REAL is the first study to observe these effects of SGLT-2i treatment in a much broader and lower risk group of type-2 diabetes patients than previously evaluated in clinical trials.”

AZ shares were worth 4,898 this morning, their highest value since the turn of the year.


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