Biotech drugmaker Amgen's 3Q profit falls 11 pct

AP News
Posted: Oct 25, 2010 5:57 PM
Biotech drugmaker Amgen's 3Q profit falls 11 pct

Biotechnology company Amgen Inc. on Monday posted an 11 percent drop in third-quarter profit on flat sales and higher operating costs, although the drugmaker still beat expectations.

The company reported net income of $1.24 billion, or $1.28 per share, down from $1.39 billion, or $1.36 per share, a year ago.

After adjusting for a favorable tax settlement in the year-ago quarter, the company would have earned $1.3 billion or $1.36 a share.

That was slightly better than predictions by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who called for earnings of $1.27 per share on $3.77 billion in revenue.

The company said revenue was nearly flat at $3.82 billion.

Despite beating Wall Street expectations, analysts focused on sales of the company's new bone-strengthening drug Prolia, which were a meager $10 million for the period. Analysts were looking for sales of more than $30 million. The drug, approved in June as a treatment for postmenopausal women at risk for fractures, is seen as a key revenue driver for company growth.

On a call with analysts, Chief Executive Kevin Sharer said some physicians are still learning how to bill for the drug, a twice-a-year injection that doctors buy and administer at their office.

"Doctors in their offices are working to become accustomed to the new reimbursement dynamics Prolia often represents for them," Sharer said. "Once this reimbursement process is mastered and they gain experience, I am confident usage will be significant."

The company continues to expect an FDA decision by Nov. 18 on Prolia as a treatment for bone damage suffered by cancer patients, a new use that would expand sales.

Sales of the company's best-selling anemia drugs continued to slide in the quarter, with Aranesp sales declining 9 percent to $623 million. Aranesp is Amgen's No. 1 product, followed by Epogen, a similar anemia drug used exclusively to treat kidney disease patients.

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Doctors have scaled back their use of the products in recent years after studies showed they could cause heart problems.

Lower anemia drug sales were partially offset by higher sales of Neulasta and Neupogen, which help prevent infections in chemotherapy patients.

Amgen's bottom line also benefited from tightly controlled operating expenses, which rose 5 percent to $2.34 billion _ less than analysts expected.

The company reiterated its full-year earnings forecast of between $5.05 and $5.25 on revenue of $15.1 billion.

Company shares fell 45 cents to $57.50 in after-hours trading.


Linda A. Johnson contributed to this story from Trenton, N.J.