GSK claims victory over AstraZeneca in asthma trials

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GlaxoSmithKline said today its asthma drug Advair fared better than AstraZeneca's Symbicort in a one-year clinical study, stirring up rival claims about the two products.
According to a recent 688-patient study, asthma sufferers who took Advair had on average 24 more symptom-free days than those on Symbicort and experienced nearly 50 percent fewer moderate or severe exacerbations of the disease.
GSK is expected to use the results, published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics, to defend its position in the category as AZ moves to launch Symbicort in the U.S. in 2006.
However, AZ said in a Reuters report that patients taking Symbicort in the latest trial were under dosed, since they were given an average of just 1.8 puffs of the inhaled treatment each day. An earlier study using 3.4 puffs-a-day and involving more than 10,000 patients came out in favor of Symbicort.
GSK generates approximately one fifth of its sales from respiratory drugs, led by Advair with sales of $4.7 billion in 2004.
Symbicort, which is available in Europe but not yet in the U.S., had sales of $797 million in 2004.
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