Astra joins Glaxo in lupus

Astrazeneca has managed to bag US approval for anifrolumab in systemic lupus erythematosus, despite its mixed data package. The next question is whether the interferon type I inhibitor, now branded Saphnelo, can challenge the leading SLE therapy, Glaxosmithkline’s Benlysta. The latter has disappointed commercially since its launch in 2011 but is expected to finally become a blockbuster this year; sellside consensus compiled by Evaluate Pharma forecasts Benlysta sales of $1.5bn by 2026, versus Saphnelo’s $488m. At least Astra does not have too many other rivals breathing down its neck, a look at the late-stage pipeline shows. Interestingly, Biogen has two shots on goal here, having recently started pivotal development of its second contender, BIIB059. And Roche is also developing Gazyva in lupus nephritis, where Aurinia got approval of Lupkynis earlier this year. Meanwhile, a previous pivotal failure has not put off Immupharma, which is apparently now pushing Lupuzor into a second phase 3, funded by its partner Avion.

The late-stage systemic lupus erythematosus pipeline
Project Company Description Trial details
Olumiant Lilly/Incyte Jak 1 & 2 inhibitor Brave II ends Oct 2021; Brave I ends May 2022
Dapirolizumab Biogen/UCB Anti-CD40L MAb Phoenycs Go ends Feb 2023
BIIB059 Biogen Anti-BDCA2 MAb Topaz-1 ends Apr 2025; Topaz-2 ends Jun 2025
Gazyva Roche Anti-CD20 MAb Allegory ends Nov 2025
Lupuzor Immupharma/Avion Pharmaceuticals Autophagy immunomodulator Failed ph3 in Apr 2018, new ph3 planned
Source: Evaluate Pharma &

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