AstraZeneca shares plunge amid 'significant blow' of drug trial failure
Shares in AstraZeneca plunged on Thursday after the pharmaceuticals giant disclosed that a lung cancer drug trial has failed.
The company's stock plummeted more than 15% to 4,300p in morning trading as the first round of the "Mystic trial" showed that a combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab does not improve survival rates any more than chemotherapy.
The treatment had been seen as a big potential money-spinner with the lucrative immuno-oncology drugs market continuing to grow at a fast pace.
Jeffrey Holford, equity analyst at Jefferies, described the failure as a "significant blow", adding that the "dividend may now look less safe".
It comes amid speculation over the future of AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, who has been linked with a move to Israeli firm Teva.
Last week in an internal memo Mr Soriot did not confirm or deny reports that he had accepted a job offer from the company.
On the failed trial, Mr Soriot said: "Despite the outcome of the initial readout, we must be patient as the Mystic trial continues as planned to evaluate overall survival."
AstraZeneca made the announcement alongside half-year results, which saw sales fall 11% to 10.5 billion US dollars (£7.9 billion) after the loss of patents on profitable drugs in the US.
Operating profit grew 37% to 1.8 billion US dollars (£1.3 billion).