Sanofi and Regeneron Shares Surge Over Asthma Drug Dupixent Proving Effective for COPD Patients

Sanofi Company

Shares of Sanofi and Regeneron surged by over 6% on Thursday after the pharmaceutical companies released promising data indicating their jointly developed asthma drug Dupixent also shows potential in treating COPD patients.

New data from a phase three clinical trial reveals that Dupixent reduced severe episodes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by 30% compared to a placebo over 52 weeks.

The drug is already approved for asthma and certain skin conditions like eczema but could become the first new treatment for COPD in over a decade.

COPD is a life-threatening respiratory disease that causes progressive lung function decline, with symptoms such as persistent cough and breathlessness that can hinder an individual’s ability to perform daily activities.

It caused 3.2 million deaths globally in 2019, making it the third leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization. Smoking is a key risk factor for COPD, but people who quit smoking can also develop the disease.

The trial enrolled COPD patients with type 2 inflammation, an allergic response that can result in decreased lung function. Approximately 300,000 people in the U.S. alone live with COPD with type 2 inflammation, according to Regeneron.

The more than 900 participants in the trial were current or former smokers, and those who received Dupixent showed improvements in lung function, quality of life, and respiratory symptoms.

These results are a significant achievement for Dupixent, as competing COPD drugs from companies such as AstraZeneca and GSK have struggled to achieve successful approval.

Dupixent Injection (Photo: Rodrigo Cid)

“Change cannot come quick enough for people living with uncontrolled COPD but, unfortunately, many investigational treatments have failed to demonstrate significant clinical outcomes leaving these vulnerable patients with limited treatment options,” said Dr. Dietmar Berger, Sanofi’s chief medical officer, in a company press release.

“We are excited to share these unprecedented and potentially paradigm-shifting clinical results, which may give new hope to patients, caregivers, and physicians.”

The companies stated that a second phase three trial of Dupixent in COPD is ongoing, with data expected in 2024.

J.P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott said Dupixent’s latest results exceeded expectations.

“This benefit suggests a clear clinically meaningful benefit for Dupixent and should support broad usage for the asset in this segment of the COPD market,” Schott wrote in a research note to clients Thursday.

He added that J.P. Morgan expects to see new COPD patients contributing $1.5 billion to $2 billion in new sales for Dupixent.

Dupixent generated $8.7 billion in sales last year for Regeneron, marking a 40% increase from 2021.

Cowen analyst Steve Scala provided a similar outlook on the new data, noting that COPD represents a significant market opportunity for the drug.

“We expect solid uptake for Dupixent once approved,” he wrote in a note Thursday, adding that “we are strongly encouraged by positive data in COPD, which could become a blockbuster opportunity for Dupixent and extend its growth trajectory through 2030+.”

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