AstraZeneca Surges After Breast Cancer Drug Tops Chemo

AstraZeneca (AZN) and Daiichi Sankyo said Friday their breast cancer treatment outperformed chemotherapy in a Phase 3 study, and AZN stock jumped to its 50-day line.


The companies are in the antibody drug conjugate, or ADC, space with a medicine called datopotamab deruxteca. ADCs are like smart bombs, targeting specific molecules covering cancer cells. This allows them to drop toxic chemicals directly onto tumors, limiting damage to healthy tissue.

In the interim analysis of a final-phase study, a group of patients with breast cancer lived longer before their cancer worsened after receiving datopotamab deruxteca than chemotherapy recipients. The study is ongoing, however, as AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo continue analyzing whether the ADC will have a benefit on overall survival — how long patients live before dying of any cause.

Notably, there were no new safety issues in the study, the companies said in a news release.

On today’s stock market, AZN stock rose 1.2% to close at 67.83. That put shares just under a ceiling at their 50-day moving average, according to Daiichi Sankyo, which trades over the counter, climbed 4% to 27.20.

AZN Stock: Taking On Gilead

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo tested their drug in patients whose tumors contain either estrogen or progesterone, but not the HER2 protein. This is known as HR-positive, HER2-low or negative breast cancer. Patients previously received at least two prior therapies.

This study positions AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s drug in direct competition with Trodelvy, a breast cancer treatment from Gilead Sciences (GILD). Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat notes AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo already make another antibody drug conjugate called Enhertu.

“The concern was this: We knew that in half of HR-positive breast cancer, Enhertu is way stronger than Trodelvy,” he said in a report. “What if AstraZeneca’s data came in stronger than Trodelvy in the other half of HR-positive breast cancer too?”

Notably, Gilead’s Trodelvy didn’t show a benefit on overall survival in the first interim analysis of its Phase 3 study. Enhertu did, however. This suggests datopotamab deruxteca’s benefit on overall survival is likely “not in the Enhertu ballpark,” Raffat said.

“But could it still be better than Gilead?” he asked. “We shall see.”

Raffat didn’t list a rating on AZN stock. In morning trades, Gilead stock dipped a fraction to 75.01.

Follow Allison Gatlin on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, at @IBD_AGatlin.


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