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Amgen buys total filgrastim rights from Roche

Wrests control of white blood cell stimulator franchise
Amgen - flag on building

Amgen confirmed its faith in its white blood cell stimulator franchise after agreeing to buy rights to Neupogen and Neulasta in more than 100 markets where the drugs are sold by Roche.

Sales of the two products in the markets accounted for around $200m of the franchise's combined turnover of $5.3bn last year.

Amgen clearly believes it can drive growth of Neupogen (filgrastim) and longer-acting variant Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) more effectively in the Roche territories, which cover the world's emerging economies including Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

"This agreement will enable Amgen to reach more patients around the world with two of our innovative medicines," commented Amgen chief executive Robert Bradway.

"We felt for some time that an important ingredient for our long-term success was international expansion and in particular a clear path forward in Japan, China and the other key emerging markets," he added.

The deal comes as the filgrastim portfolio is facing pressure in Amgen's current sales territories of the US and EU. Teva is building up for launch of a filgrastim product in the US after November 10 - when Neupogen's patents expire - while Neulasta is facing generic competition from 2015. Analysts have predicted Amgen will lose 30 to 40 per cent of franchise sales by 2018 as a result.

Amgen reported yesterday that combined EU and US sales of Neupogen were up 30 per cent in the third-quarter to $4665m - boosted by a $155m order from the US government - while Neulasta gained 9 per cent to $1.14bn thanks to price increases and a small hike in US demand.

Bradway maintained on the firm's conference call that Teva's product - called Tbo-filgrastim - is not officially a biosimilar and therefore "won't be a product that has the same label as Neupogen". It is already marketed in Europe under the trade name Tevagrastim.

Overall, Amgen's total third-quarter revenues rose 10 per cent to $4.7bn, while earnings per share (EPS) was up 16 per cent to $1.94 and net income came in at $1.48bn, up 13 per cent.

Among Amgen's other products, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease treatment Enbrel (etanercept) was up 7 per cent to $1.07bn, but long-acting red blood cell stimulator Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) fell 10 per cent to $449m and short-acting Epogen (epoetin alfa) was flat at $491m.

Among drugs in the launch phase, Prolia (denosumab) for osteoporosis was up 62 per cent to $178m, while Amgen's Xgeva formulation of the drug for bone metastases climbed 30 per cent to $261m.

Article by
Phil Taylor

23rd October 2013

From: Sales

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