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12:00 AM
 | 
May 21, 2007
 |  BioCentury  |  Regulation

The chickens did come home

For a company its size, Amgen Inc. has its eggs in very few baskets, and it has long acknowledged that its erythropoiesis stimulating agents were vulnerable to the willingness of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other payers to reimburse for them.

Indeed, one of the reasons AMGN said it acquired Immunex Corp. for $16 billion in late 2001 was to gain a product - Enbrel etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases - that didn't face the reimbursement risk of its major drug at the time: Epogen epoetin alfa.

In the intervening years, AMGN added a second-generation EPO product, Aranesp darbepoietin, but it also acquired Abgenix Inc. for $2.2 billion in late 2005, which gave it Vectibix panitumumab for colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, at the end of 2006, ESAs remained AMGN's biggest sellers.

This year has been an object lesson in just how fast things can change. The company's market cap has decreased from $79 billion at the beginning of the year to finish...

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