Amgen riding high on 2014 results

Amgen has announced a rise in Q4 revenues of 6 per cent, with full-year revenues increasing 7 per cent to $20.1 billion, based on strong performances from Enbrel and across the portfolio.

Rheumatoid arthritis blockbuster Enbrel did well in 2014, increasing sales in Q4 by 11 per cent, or $1.34 billion, over analyst expectations, and by 3 per cent over the year.

CEO Bob Bradway called 2014 a “watershed year” in the company’s R&D achievements, laying the ground for several new drug launches in 2015.

2014 highlights included the filings of four innovative molecules with the regulators – Blincyto and T-Vec in immuno-oncology, plus evolocumab and ivabradine for cardiovascular disease.

Novel T-cell immunotherapy Blincyto (blinatumomab) received accelerated approval from the US FDA in December for patients with Philadelphia chromosome-negative precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-cell ALL) and is likely to be indicated for other forms of leukaemia as part of Amgen’s BiTE programme.

Plus Evolocumab for hypercholesterolemia, ivabradine for heart failure and T-VEC for metastatic melanoma are all on track for launch this year, giving the company a firm foundation for future development as established drugs like Enbrel start to face more competition from the likes of Novartis and Lilly with their IL-17A therapies in psoriasis. The company is, of course, working with AstraZeneca to develop its own IL-17A drug in this competitive field, brodalumab, which has shown promise at phase III.

Multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis (carfilzomib), which Amgen acquired in Q4 2013 with its takeover of Onyx, achieved Q4 sales of $91 million, up 25 per cent year-on-year, but down on market predictions, although Amgen is looking to approvals in the US and EU for its use earlier in the disease to boost future sales.

Overall, Amgen looks well placed to build on its success in 2014.

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