Amgen-AstraZeneca Experimental Medicine Eases Psoriasis

Amgen Inc. (AMGN) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN)’s experimental drug brodalumab eased symptoms of psoriasis at both doses tested in a key study needed for U.S. approval.

The medicine for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis dispersed the thick red patchy scales on patients’ skin, leaving it markedly clearer than those getting a placebo, the companies said today in a statement. The study is the first from the final round of tests on the drug. Two studies comparing it with Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara are expected by year end, said Sean Harper, executive vice president of research and development for Amgen, the world’s biggest biotechnology company by revenue.

The psoriasis drug is part of a 2012 collaboration between Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen and London-based AstraZeneca to develop five medicines from Amgen’s portfolio of therapies for inflammation. AstraZeneca is currently grappling with a $106 billion acquisition bid from Pfizer Inc., which executives rejected last week as too low because it undervalued the U.K. company’s drug pipeline.

Brodalumab works in a different manner than existing drugs and rivals in development, latching on to the interleukin 17 receptor and blocking inflammation that’s a key driver of the disease. Novartis AG and Eli Lilly & Co. are also working on medicines to treat psoriasis, which would compete with drugs including J&J’s Stelara and Amgen’s Enbrel.

The study of 661 patients found 83 percent in the high-dose brodalumab arm and 60 percent getting a lower dose had the severity of their disease lessen by at least 75 percent after three months of treatment, compared with a similar benefit in 2.7 percent of patients given a placebo.

About 125 million people worldwide suffer from the skin condition, including about 7.5 million Americans, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at Andrew Pollack, Angela Zimm

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