Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

AstraZeneca Slimmer after Fat Drug's Delay; MARKET REPORT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

AstraZeneca Slimmer after Fat Drug's Delay; MARKET REPORT

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL CLARK

DRUGS giant AstraZeneca fell sharply today after it emerged that the launch of its new fat-busting drug Crestor has been delayed while the company makes further tests on the level of dosage required.

Its shares were the biggest loser among the top 100 companies as the price tumbled 115p to 1935p. It has fallen from a peak of 3625p since the start of the year amid worries about patent expiries and the lack of new drugs coming onstream.

AstraZeneca has been forced to initiate three new clinical trials because it needs more information on the drug's effectiveness at medium dosages.

This was one of the conditions laid down by the US Food and Drug Administration in June, in exchange for it issuing approval to launch the drug later this year. The drugs giant is pinning its hopes for the future on Crestor with some analysts forecasting that sales of the cholesterol treatment could reach pound sterling3 billion a year at their peak. Meanwhile AstraZeneca has linkedup with Europe's largest biotech company Serono to develop and market the female infertility treatment Anastrozole.

Elsewhere share prices made a positive start with the FTSE 100 rising 68.4 at 3963.9.

It followed one of the most volatile performances ever seen on Wall Street overnight, where the Dow embarked on a helterskelter performance that eventually saw it close 235 points down, stretching its two-day fall to 625 points. But it was a half-hearted affair in London. Confidence remains at a low ebb. Financial markets are being driven by fear and the general absence of buyers means rallies are often short-lived affairs.

Oil shares were among yesterday's biggest casualties, Today they bounced back with Shell rising 111/2p to 3911/2p, and BP firming 4p to 432p. US securities house Lehman Brothers was reckoned to be behind the move after raising its recommendation on the shares. …

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