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Astellas continues focus on oncology developments

Astellas Pharma Inc., which reported a 5.6% decrease in year-over-year sales but a 4.6% increase in core profit for the first three quarters of the year, highlighted its oncology research in its nine-month earnings conference call.

The company saw a double-digit increase in global sales for prostate cancer treatment Xtandi, though it was impacted by foreign exchange rates and the National Health Insurance drug price revision that came into force in Japan in April 2016. The country's insurance agency, which controls drug prices, cut an average 6.8% from drug prices in its most recent April 2016 revision. Some drug marketers identified as "huge sellers" saw prices cut by up to 50%.

The company is testing enzalutimide, the active component of Xtandi, for breast and prostate cancers, and the results of its phase 2 trials are expected in the fiscal year ending in March. Late development projects would be enriched further by the addition of enfortumab vedotin, a treatment for bladder cancer, which has progressed to phase 2 trials.

Xtandi owner Medivation entered an agreement in 2009 with Astellas to develop the drug and commercialize it in the U.S. In September 2016, Pfizer Inc. completed its acquisition of Medivation in a deal worth approximately $14 billion, effectively creating a partnership with Astellas to market and develop the drug.

Astellas completed its acquisition of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG in December 2016 and had also added its drug for gastroesophageal tumors, IMAB362, into its development pipeline.