Setting Amgen's targets

How Amgen needs to execute with Onyx's Kyprolis to boost targeted drug story

Amgen Inc.'s proposed acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. will more than double the bellwether's portfolio of marketed targeted cancer therapeutics, putting it in a tie with GlaxoSmithKline plc for second place behind Roche and its Genentech Inc. unit. The question is what Amgen's next act will be.

After two months of negotiations, Amgen agreed in August to purchase Onyx for $10.4 billion (see BioCentury, Sept. 2).

The deal will increase Amgen's portfolio of marketed cancer drugs to five from two through the addition of Nexavar sorafenib, Stivarga regorafenib and Kyprolis carfilzomib.

Onyx also adds one Phase II cancer compound to Amgen's five Phase II or III programs, excluding line extensions and compounds for which worldwide rights have been out-licensed.

Targeted cancer therapy leaders Roche and Genentech have eight targeted drugs marketed across 20 indications, plus 10 targeted programs in Phase II or beyond.

Amgen is now even with GlaxoSmithKline's five marketed targeted drugs. The biotech now tops Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc., which have three apiece, and Novartis AG, which has four. All four pharmas have Phase II and Phase III pipelines that are about as robust as Amgen's.

Part of Amgen's plan for continuing to climb the ladder will be to expand the label for Kyprolis - the real driver behind last month's deal.

That strategy is similar to what Amgen did with Xgeva denosumab, which was first approved to prevent skeletal-related events (SREs) in metastatic disease and then was expanded to

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