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Amgen’s R&D chief Sean Harper retires to seek biotech post

Adds to trend in senior leaders

Sean Harper

Amgen’s long-serving head of R&D Sean Harper (pictured) is retiring from his position and is looking for “opportunities in the early-stage biotechnology community,” according to the company.

Harper will be succeeded by Dave Reese, who has been with Amgen since 2005 and – according to chief executive Robert Bradway – as senior vice president of translational sciences and oncology has been “been closely involved with virtually all of the medicines that have emerged from our pipeline since then.”

Also departing is Tony Hooper, executive vice president of global commercial operations, who will step down in September to be replaced by Murdo Gordon, currently chief commercial officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). Bradway said Gordon “has global experience at a time when we're looking to continue to expand our geographic presence.”

Harper took over the helm of Amgen’s R&D five years ago when he replaced Roger Perlmutter, who left to join Merck & Co, and in deciding to depart big biopharma for a smaller player he’s following in the footsteps of Gilead’s former R&D head Norbert Bischofberger, who resigned to join start-up Kronos Bio earlier this year. There’s no word yet on where Harper will end up.

The announcements were made during Amgen’s interim results, which were headlines by a 4% increase in revenues to $6.1bn – around $400m ahead of forecasts – with newer products helping to offset an 11% decline in Amgen’s top-seller Enbrel (etanercept) to $1.3bn, affected by competition for TNF inhibitors from biosimilars and newer drugs such as Novartis’ fast-growing IL-17 inhibitor Cosentyx (secukinumab).

Cholesterol drug Repatha (evolocumab), which has been pegged back by payer resistance, started to gather momentum with a 78% second-quarter gain to $148m, and there were also solid gains for osteoporosis therapy Prolia (denosumab) and Xgeva for bone metastases, up 21% to $8610m and 14% to $452m, respectively.

Bradway said two new products – Aimovig (erenumab) for migraine and Sensipar follow-up Parsabiv (etelcalcetide) for chronic kidney disease – had started well, and the quarter was also marked by the launch of Amgen’s first biosimilar Kanjinti, a version of Roche’s breast cancer blockbuster Herceptin (trastuzumab).

There are reports that insurers are however putting hurdles in front of potential Aimovig patients, however, and Amgen is providing two months of the drug for free while it negotiates with payers, which means early performance is hard to gauge. Parsabiv meanwhile made $73m after making its debut in the first quarter, around a year after it was approved by the FDA.

Amgen also joined the clutch of companies saying that it wouldn’t be increasing prices this year, saying it had decided months ago not to do so at mid-year and has “no plans to change that for the balance of the year.” The companies’ statements come after US President Donald Trump published a blueprint to reduce drug spending in May.

Article by
Phil Taylor

27th July 2018

From: Marketing



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