AstraZeneca Reuters

Brilinta, AstraZeneca's new anti-clotting drug for heart patients, has passed a major clinical trial.

Patients receiving Brilinta combined with aspirin for a year after having a heart attack were less likely to have additional heart problems compared to people taking aspirin and a placebo.

After the trial, called Pegasus, AstraZeneca's shares rose by 1.9 percent since the drug Brilinta is useful for a year after a heart attack and therefore offers great sales potential for AstraZeneca. This drug is critical for the company to reach its target of $45 billion in annual revenue by 2023. Brilinta alone is expected to bring in $3.5 billion in sales by 2023, compared with $283 million in 2013 and $1.3 billion by 2020, which is projected by analysts.

Brilinta is sold as Brilique in Europe. AstraZeneca is conducting studies to expand the number of people to whom this drug can be useful. In the future, Brilinta will be tested on patients of stroke, peripheral arterial disease and diabetes. Around 80,000 people will take part in the trials, AstraZeneca's largest programme of clinical trials.

The data collected from the Pegasus trial will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in March and will likely be published in a top medical journal. The results of these trials will probably double the number of people taking the pill. Regulatory approval for additional use of the pill, along with aspirin, will come in 2016.

The Pegasus trial tracked about 21,000 heart patients from 31 countries who had suffered a heart attack in the past one to three years.

AstraZeneca's trial shows that both the 60-milligramme and 90-milligramme doses of Brilinta lead to a significant reduction in 'major cardiovascular thrombotic events.'

About 720,000 people have heart attacks every year in the United States alone, where it is the biggest cause of death, of which 205,000 of these people suffer recurrent attacks. About 3 per cent of U.S. and European adults have a history of heart attacks, according to AstraZeneca.

Brilinta competes with Plavix from Sanofi and Effient, made by Eli Lilly & Co.

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