AstraZeneca calls off two late-stage potassium drug trials

FILE PHOTO: The AstraZeneca office building in Brussels

By Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -AstraZeneca is calling off two late-stage trials into the potential benefits of its potassium-reduction drug Lokelma in treating a chronic condition called hyperkalemia in people with various heart and kidney diseases.

"The decision to discontinue the trials is not due to safety concerns and the positive benefit-risk of Lokelma does not change in the approved indication," AstraZeneca said in a statement on Friday.

Hyperkalemia (HK) is characterised by high levels of potassium in the blood and poses a significant risk of cardiac arrest.

AstraZeneca's Lokelma, which provides rapid potassium reduction and sustained control of the mineral, has been approved for the treatment of a broader HK patient population in 56 countries worldwide, including the U.S., the EU and China.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said it scrapped the two trials, which were known as STABILIZE-CKD and DIALIZE-Outcomes Phase III evidence, due to substantially increased enrolment timelines and low event rates, respectively.

In the first nine months of 2023, Lokelma brought in sales of $300 million for the FTSE 100 firm, according to its latest earnings report.

AstraZeneca bought the drug's original developer ZS Pharma for $2.7 billion in 2015, one of several bolt-on acquisitions designed to help build up its pipeline of new drugs.

Shares in AstraZeneca were up 0.5% at 1100 GMT, compared with a 0.6% rise in London's blue-chip index.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Mrigank Dhaniwala and Alexander Smith)