Astra's colon cancer drug fails test

LONDON (AP) - AstraZeneca PLC said Monday that its cancer drug Recentin failed in a head to head late stage trial with Roche AG's Avastin in tests for use as an initial treatment against colon cancer.

The London-based drug company said it will wait for the results of a second study on Recentin - this time testing its effectiveness in combination with chemotherapy compared with chemotherapy alone - before deciding whether to submit the drug to regulators for marketing approval.

AstraZeneca's shares dropped 1.6 percent to 2,949 pence ($44.58) after the announcement.

Panmure Gordon analyst Savvas Neophytou said the stock coming under pressure was expected, but advocated buying on weakness "as the mid-term guidance story remains intact, because Recentin was a high risk development."

Recentin, a pill, was developed to challenge Roche's Avastin, an injectable treatment.

"While we recognised that challenging Avastin would be a high hurdle, it is still disappointing, despite evidence of clinical activity with Recentin, not to have met the primary endpoint in this study," said Alan Barge, AstraZeneca's head of oncology.

AstraZeneca confirmed its financial guidance for this year and its planning assumptions through to 2014, suggesting it did not expect a material impact on earnings over that period.

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