Selumetinib - AstraZeneca

Not the biggest of AstraZeneca's experimental cancer drugs, but a flop for selumetinib still stings.

Cancer drugs are right at the heart of Pascal Soriot's turnaround plan for AstraZeneca ($AZN). And last year, as Soriot continued to assert that the spell of disastrous pipeline reversals under former CEO David Brennan had been dispelled, selumetinib was being groomed for a 2017 filing with a blockbuster future worth more than $1 billion a year in revenue.

The drug failed a Phase III study for uveal melanoma, and the company subsequently dropped that program from the pipeline.

Selumetinib remains in the pipeline, though, as trials continue for other indications, such as non-small cell lung and thyroid cancers.

Uveal melanoma is a rare condition, afflicting some 2,000 patients in the U.S.

When you're promising investors a future with $45 billion in sales by 2023, there's not much margin for failure, though. Add in a trial halt on its two top cancer drug prospects--AZD9291 and durvalumab--to further cloud the crystal ball, and with this year's regulatory crop including the messy gout drug lesinurad, it won't take much before analysts start to doubt the turnaround story most have bought into.

For more:
AstraZeneca's once-lauded drug flunks a Phase III eye cancer trial
AstraZeneca embraces the biotech lifestyle in a make-or-break year
AstraZeneca's Soriot faces off against skeptics, preaches late-stage R&D revival
AstraZeneca's selumetinib looks promising for rare cases of eye melanoma

Selumetinib - AstraZeneca
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