Astellas is on the brink of kicking off a Phase III programme in Japan for its JAK inhibitor ASP015K, looking at its potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the firm, which showcased its focus on innovation at an R&D update last week, the efficacy and safety data of studies to date “provide a robust data package supporting advancement of the Japanese Phase III clinical programme”.

Elsewhere in the pipeline, Phase II results of roxadustat (ASP1517/FG-4592) have shown that the drug is effective in treating anaemia correction and maintenance in both dialysis and non-dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease.

Six Phase III studies, in collaboration with FibroGen, will support the European filings for both dialysis and non-dialysis indications, the Japanse drugmaker said.

US filing for isavuconazole

Also in the later stages of the pipeline, a global Phase III programme is now underway assessing the concomitant use of Vesicare (solifenacin) and Betmiga (mirabegron) for the treatment of overactive bladder, while a new drug application has just been submitted in the US for isavuconazole to treat invasive aspergillosis and invasive mucormycosis.

"Our late stage-pipeline is strong and tightly aligned to our commercial strategy," said Ken Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of Astellas Pharma EMEA.

Yoshihiko Hatanaka, CEO at Astellas, said sustainable growth will continue to be driven “through maximising the value of the product portfolio, pursuing operational excellence and enhancing innovation through reshaping the Company’s research framework, and developing network research systems by utilising external resources”.