Blockbusting AstraZeneca to make billions from cancer drugs

Cambridge’s Big Biotech market leader AstraZeneca is set for multi-billion dollar hauls from some breathtaking advances in new cancer drugs – notably Enhertu for breast cancer.

Recent developments have put AstraZeneca in a position to commercialise multi-blockbusting drugs – those each worth at least a billion dollars in sales.The company is not only rewriting life science records but also providing genuine hope for sufferers across a range of cancers.

Confidence was further lifted with a study of Enhertu  which showed it reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 72 per cent vs. trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

AstraZeneca and partners have proved with Enhertu what has been long felt – that getting proven drugs into patients much earlier dramatically increases chances of success. The company and its allies in the field are way ahead of any global competition.

Susan Galbraith, executive vice-president, Oncology R&D for AstraZeneca, said: “The results are ground-breaking. Enhertu tripled progression-free survival as assessed by investigators and provided a disease control rate exceeding 95 per cent compared to 77 per cent for T-DM1 in DESTINY-Breast03. 

“In addition, the safety profile was encouraging with no Grade 4 or 5 interstitial lung disease events in this trial. These unprecedented data represent a potential paradigm shift in the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and illustrate the potential for Enhertu to transform more patient lives in earlier treatment settings.”

In a separate move, AstraZeneca revealed that it is to invest $360 million in a new advanced manufacturing facility in Ireland – establishing a next-generation active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility for small molecules.

The facility, near Dublin, will ensure the company’s global supply network is fit for future growth.

The new plant will allow for late-stage development and early commercial supply, adopting state of the art process technology and digital innovation designed to meet the needs of the company’s new medicines pipeline with speed and agility. 

The move is expected to create around 100 highly skilled direct jobs, including scientists and engineers, and further indirect jobs. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “AstraZeneca joins the very strong and successful network of global life sciences companies we have in Ireland.”

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot added: “This is a tremendously proud moment for us all at AstraZeneca and I am delighted that we are bringing this very significant investment to Dublin which, with the support of the IDA, will create highly skilled jobs, nurture the country’s dynamic life sciences sector and allow for the development of high value-added medicines.”