Drugs Giant Stalls over FDA's Refusal; Market Report
Foster, Geoff, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: GEOFF FOSTER
ALREADY aggressively sold down from a March peak of 3625p amid patent paranoia, Anglo-Swedish drugs giant Astra Zeneca gave shareholders something else to worry about. It revealed that the US Food and Drug Administration had turned down its proposal to use its 150mg Casodex as a treatment for early prostate cancer.
Although this does not hit the current use and approval of its Casodex 50mg formula for advanced prostrate cancer, investors were nevertheless rattled.
They sold AZ down to a twoyear low of 2583p before buyers nibbled away at basement levels. The close was 20p better at 2690p.
Analysts were surprised because Casodex has already been approved in other countries. A miffed AZ said that it will continue to work with the FDA on its application. 'It is just a difference of opinion on the interpretation of the data and how it applies to patients,' it said.
The row overshadowed bullish news published in the Lancet. Arimidex, an AZ cancer product, is as good or better at treating early stage hormonesensitive breast cancer than tamoxifen, the current standard therapy, and has fewer side-effects.
Rival GlaxoSmithKline firmed 7p to 1387p. It has frozen anti-HIV drug prices for two years in the US.
Health Clinic found itself in intensive care, closing 68p down at 741/2p.
The optical and healthcare services company delayed publication of Monday's annual results pending resolution of certain non-cash accounting issues. It warns it expects to post a pretax loss for the year to April.
Bears reckon a rights issue is urgently needed.
Elsewhere, dealers were deflated by England's defeat against Brazil.
Trading was virtually non-existent during the tense match. Even those not watching were reluctant to trade ahead of the 9.30am expiration of Footsie futures and option contracts.
Prices drifted and, by 9am, the Footsie traded 69 points down.
Then bears closed their short positions and bottom-fishing helped the index recover to 61 points better by 3pm. Then Wall Street again put a spanner in the works. Triple-witching hour on the Street of Dreams dragged the Dow Jones down 143 points early on. London closed only 25 better at 4605. …