Good trial results boost Glaxo shares

There was good news for both ends of the healthcare sector yesterday. Glaxo Wellcome announced encouraging results for its new hepatitis B treatment and medical products minnow Biocompatibles International received the all-clear to launch a follow-on to its successful Proclear durable product into the fast-growing US market for replacement contact lenses.

The news was worth 20p for Glaxo's share price, taking it to pounds 11.08, while Biocompatibles' jumped 82.5p to pounds 13.75.

The results of the latest clinical trials into the effectiveness of lamivudine, better known as Epivir, the anti-Aids drug, on the hepatitis B virus were well received by analysts, although forecasts of eventual sales vary widely from pounds 250m up to pounds 3bn or more.

They will form part of a regulatory filing in Asia later this year, the first time the drugs group has asked for official approval for a new drug in the East rather than the West.

Glaxo said a study of 358 Asian patients overseen by Professor C L Lai of Hong Kong had shown that between 59 and 67 per cent of chronic sufferers had shown improvements to their livers, the organ attacked by the disease, after using the orally administered drug for a period of 12 months.

This compared with only 30 per cent of those using placebo drugs whose liver condition improved.

The tests involved taking biopsies of the livers of the patients involved to seek out the symptoms of the disease, which can lead to both fatal cirrhosis - or scarring - and cancer and is passed on like Aids through bodily fluids and from mothers to offspring.

Glaxo said the results also compared well with the current treatment using interferon, where the equivalent percentage was more like 30 to 40 per cent.

Other tests showed that 16 per cent of patients using lamivudine resulted in undetectable levels of the hepatitis B antigen in the blood, an indicator of the extent of the virus in the body.

The potential market for lamivudine is huge. Hepatitis is carried by 350 million people around the world, of whom 95 per cent are in developing countries, particularly Asia, and 2 million die every year.

Glaxo said definitive conclusions on the product would have to await further analysis, but described the latest results as "extremely encouraging".

Analysts said the test results were in line with expectations, but their view of the prospects for lamivudine differ hugely. Stewart Adkins at Lehman Brothers has described lamivudine as having "the greatest commercial potential of any drug in Glaxo's short-term pipeline". Others, however, warned that the sample size was small and Glaxo still had to deal with pricing issues in the main developing country markets, which are less able to pay for expensive drugs.

One analyst suggested the company might effectively have to give the new drug away in developing markets. Glaxo said it was "discussing how to make the product available in China", probably the biggest potential market anywhere but with limited resources.

Lamivudine was discovered by BioChem Pharma, a Canadian company, and licensed to Glaxo. SmithKline Beecham of the UK and two US companies, Gilead and Bristol Myers Squibb, are developing rival hepatitis B treatments, but they are at an earlier stage than Glaxo.

Separately, Biocompatibles said it had won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to market its new Proclear Compatibles monthly replacement contract lens products. Launched in the UK and northern Europe in February, the authorisation opens up the $800m US soft lens market. The group's Proclear durable lens, which has been on the market for two years, achieved pounds 3m sales out of the group's pounds 11m total for 1996.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
life
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Director, Private Bank - San Francisco, CA

$175 - $200 per annum, Benefits: full benefits: Carlton Senior Appointments: P...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Diego, CA – Tier 1 House - Senior MD FA

Not specified: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior MD Financial Advisor - San ...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert