AstraZeneca might be facing a public crisis after its partner, Amgen, decided to abandon their common project on psoriasis. The Americans made a getaway from the collaboration after patients treated with brodalumab not only reported to have suicidal ideation, but even committed suicide…

AstraZeneca and Amgen’s partnership started back in 2012, as both companies resolved to jointly develop five monoclonal antibodies from Amgen’s clinical inflammation portfolio. The common development seemed to be working well, as three of the candidate went to phase II. However, during the phase III clinical trial of brodalumab, the alarms went on: suicidal ideation and patients ending their lives occurred during the program.

At first, in a report released back in March, Amgen stated that the evidence to date did not suggest any causal association between IL-17 inhibition and suicidal ideation and behavior. However, the Americans ought to have thought twice as their latest release declares that brodalumab would most likely necessitate restrictive labeling.

AstraZeneca may have suffered a hard setback because of Amgen’s abandon and counted its chickens before they have hatched. Its hopes of hitting a billion-euro market are vanishing while the British biopharma ponders on whether to continue the project on its own or, on the contrary, to dump it without looking back. Competition is fierce as the market is already occupied with Cosentyx, Novartis’ psoriasis drug that binds the IL-17A protein. Eli Lilly also wants step into the game and intends to submit its candidate, which targets the same protein, for approval this year.

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