Ebb & Flow

Amgen has shed $61 billion, or 58% of its market cap, over the last three and a half years and last week found itself slipping into third place among top tier biotechs, giving up the second slot to Gilead.

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) fell on news about Mircera methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta from Roche (SWX:ROG), which would compete with the biotech's Aranesp darbepoetin alfa and Epogen epoetin alfa.

At the same time, Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) got a boost on a positive opinion from EMEA's CHMP to expand the label for Viread tenofovir to include chronic HBV.

Gilead ended the week worth $45 billion. Amgen, which had a market cap of $104.6 billion three and a half years ago, ended last week at $43.6 billion(see "Amgen vs. Gilead").

Last week, Amgen shed $4.7 billion in market cap when it and Roche submitted briefs to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which is considering modifying a preliminary injunction to enable Roche to sell Mircera even though the pharma's product has been found to infringe three of Amgen's erythropoeitin patents related to composition and method of manufacture (see BioCentury, Oct. 29, 2007).

The court would allow U.S. marketing of the drug if Roche agrees to pay Amgen a 22.5% royalty; sell Mircera at an "average selling price" equal to or less than that of Epogen; and meet other conditions.

Amgen is still seeking a permanent injunction. The court is expected to make a final decision by April 1 on whether to modify the injunction. If the judge decides to do that, then Roche has to the end of

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