Ahead of the Bell: Amgen's cholesterol drug

Amgen says experimental evolocumab cut 'bad' cholesterol by 52 pct in yearlong clinical study

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Amgen said Tuesday that an experimental drug reduced patients' "bad" cholesterol levels by half in a yearlong study.

The company said patients who took the drug, called evolocumab, and standard treatment had a 52-percent reduction in mean levels of LDL cholesterol compared to patients who were given only standard treatment. The data come from an extension of an earlier mid-stage trial, and Amgen is scheduled to report results from a late-stage trial in early 2014.

Patients were treated with evolocumab, also designated AMG 145, once per month. Amgen said the drug was not associated with an increase in side effects. The most common side effects of treatment with evolocumab and standard therapy included colds, upper respiratory tract infections, flu, joint pain, and back pain.

Citi Investment Research analyst Yaron Werber said the study results were impressive and they match up well with data from shorter trials. However he said evolocumab appears to be less effective than some other experimental cholesterol drugs from companies like Celgene Corp., Gilead Sciences Inc., and Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He rates shares of the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company "Buy" with a target price of $139.

Shares of Amgen Inc. closed at $115.46 on Tuesday. The stock reached an all-time high of $119.70 on Nov. 4.

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