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ASTRAZENECA

AstraZeneca abandons diabetes drug

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced it is abandoning development of its Galida diabetes product amid fears that it could cause kidney damage.

Galida was in phase III trials but AstraZeneca today said results suggested it was unlikely to offer patients any advantage over existing products. There were also concerns over the risk it may increase the risk of kidney disease.

AstraZeneca’s Swedish information manager Staffan Ternby said that the company has taken the decision because “we have found it difficult to interpret the effects [of the drug] on the kidneys.”

The company’s CEO David Brennan said the decision to discontinue development of the drug was “disappointing.”

“We remain committed to further strengthening AstraZeneca’s pipeline of new medicines both from our own research efforts and through the continued pursuit of external opportunities to enhance our business,” he added.

A London-based dealer told the AFX financial news agency that sales of Galida had been expected to peak at $1.1 billion and therefore accounted for around 26 pence per share.

As a result, he expected AstraZeneca shares, which are listed in London to fall around 2 pct on today’s news.

The Local

NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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