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AstraZeneca agrees $6.9bn deal with Daiichi Sankyo: UK drug maker could dominate the future breast cancer therapy market

The joint development and commercialization of a new breast cancer therapy indicated for the treatment of HER-2 positive breast cancer has the potential to help the AstraZeneca in its quest for a larger oncology market share. If approved, it will join Lynparza (olaparib) – a PARP inhibitor marketed by AstraZeneca for the treatment of HER negative breast cancer. The addition of a new breast cancer therapy to the AstraZeneca product portfolio will almost certainly increase the company’s market share.

Roche currently dominates the treatment of HER-2 positive breast cancer with their blockbuster drug, Herceptin. However, the expiration of patents protecting the company’s most lucrative drugs are fast approaching, which will cause the market to become diluted with cheap biosimilar therapies. This will decrease the price of Herceptin and create an opportunity for a new therapy to enter the market. The first signs of Herceptin sales deteriorating became present 2018 in anticipation of the expiration of patents in June 2019.

The success of the deal may be limited by the presence of existing therapies. Roche has marketed a number of drugs which planned to mitigate the losses expected from the reduced sales and cost of Herceptin after patents expire in mid-2019. The presence of existing therapies has not phased AstraZeneca or Daiichi Sankyo; both companies remain enthusiastic in the development of new drugs. Results comparing the safety and efficacy of market competitors to the new development are yet to be published, however actions taken by the partnership suggest a positive outcome will emerge as the companies accelerate their applications for market approval.