Company news: AstraZeneca, ViiV

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Pfizer's pending-approval RA drug tofacitnib already has a contender in the pipeline – AstraZeneca's fostamatinib, which sounds similar, but is an SYK Kinase inhibitor as opposed to JAK inhibitor. Bernstein Analyst Tim Anderson said in his November 15 research note that AstraZeneca hosted a meeting to highlight its Phase III treatment's results, and his takeaway was that the investment community should be cautious. Anderson flagged raised blood pressure among clinical trial patients as a cause of concern, because RA patients are already β€œat heightened risk of having CV events.” Anderson acknowledged that add-on meds could be used to lower blood pressure, but wrote that may not placate regulators, particularly because the RA category already has treatments that don't have this affect.

ViiV healthcare partners GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi announced Monday that the experimental HIV drug dolutegravir reduced the virus levels among hard-to-treat patients who were part of the Phase III Viking study. The study showed that the virus was undetectable in 63% of the 183 patients after 24 weeks, reported Bloomberg. These patients were unresponsive to several antivirals. The announcement is soon after GSK traded Shionogi shares in ViiV for ownership of the partnership's HIV therapy portfolio.

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