On Amgen’s Agenda: Bring Biologics To Primary Care
The big biotech is investing heavily in two late-stage drugs – one for high cholesterol and the other for osteoporosis – that will test its ability to expand its specialty marketing savvy into primary care markets. Denosumab, launched in 2010 for osteoporosis under the brand name Prolia, was a first step, but investors see bigger opportunities ahead.
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The addition of Onyx’s cancer drugs to Amgen’s portfolio will fill a near-term sales gap for the big biotech and reinforce the company as a major oncology player. But Amgen will need to execute expertly on the merger if it is to transform itself into a high-growth biotech.
New bone-targeted agents for osteoporosis must clear significant obstacles to succeed in a highly generic market, but safety concerns with established agents like bisphosphonates and calcitonin offer a foothold. Phase III anabolic candidates from Amgen and Radius Health aim to build new bone, the holy grail of osteoporosis treatment, but R&D in new anti-resorptive mechanisms to halt bone breakdown also continues.
Amid growing concern over the quality of Merck’s late-stage pipeline, CEO Frazier made a decisive move to change the R&D leadership; Former Amgen R&D head Perlmutter will succeed Merck Research Laboratories President Kim in April.