AZ touts cost effectiveness data on blockbuster hopeful Brilinta

Still angling for a crucial approval of Brilinta (ticagrelor) at the FDA, AstraZeneca is now making its case that the blood thinner is more cost effective than a generic version of Plavix, its main market rival that currently earns a megablockbuster $9 billion a year. Zeroing in on quality adjusted life years, the key formula used by UK regulators to evaluate cost efficiencies, Swedish researchers say Brilinta delivered a 0.13 QALY advantage for acute coronary patients at a cost of €2,350 ($3,110) to €5,700 ($7,550) per QALY.

Plavix is expected to lose market protection next year and faces an onslaught of generic competition. To do the comparison, the researchers compared generic Plavix at 17 euro cents per day compared to 2.25-3.50 euros per day for Brilinta. The drug is being rolled out in European markets as Brilique following its approval there.

The data comes from a substudy of the main PLATO trial, a Phase III trial that has gathered the pivotal efficacy data AstraZeneca is using to seek regulatory approval. In its release, the pharma giant says that a cost per QALY in the range of €25,000 ($33,000) to €38,000 ($50,000) is considered cost effective.

 "What is particularly impressive about this substudy is that even at a higher price, ticagrelor was a cost effective treatment for ACS patients compared to generic clopidogrel," said lead researcher Lars Wallentin.

AstraZeneca ran into a roadblock at the FDA at the end of last year after regulators demanded new data analysis ahead of a formal decision. Bloomberg's average peak sale projection from three analysts comes in at $2.7 billion by 2015, a revenue stream that AstraZeneca badly needs to make up for the rapidly approaching loss of exclusivity on Nexium.

- see AstraZeneca's release
- here's the Reuters story