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Amgen posts higher biosimilar sales, ends neuroscience program

By Deena Beasley
File photo of an Amgen sign at the company's office in South San Francisco

By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) - Amgen Inc on Tuesday said competition for its older drugs sent third-quarter revenue down 3%, but biosimilar sales were strong and the quarterly results were ahead of Wall Street estimates.

The biotechnology company, which last year launched migraine drug Aimovig, also said it would end programs to develop other neuroscience drugs.

Amgen posted third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of $3.66, beating the average analyst estimate by 13 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Share buybacks lowered the number of Amgen shares outstanding by 7% from a year earlier.

Amgen, which has launched its own biosimilar versions of several drugs sold by rival companies, said sales of those products rose to $173 million from $82 million in the previous quarter.

"The quarter was marked by continued questions around some of their key franchises," Jefferies analyst Michael Yee told Reuters. "There were some offsetting surprises. The biosimilar business ... is on a run rate for nearly a billion (dollars) by next year."

Amgen shares, which closed up 2% at $208.99 - near their all-time high - were trading close to that after hours.

Sales of new migraine drug Aimovig totaled $66 million for the quarter, well short of the $94.5 million projected by analysts, while sales of cholesterol fighter Repatha rose 40% to $168 million. That was still shy of Wall Street estimates of $170.3 million.

Amgen officials said Aimovig prescriptions are increasing, but discounts linked to payer formulary placement have resulted in lower net prices.

Sales of Neulasta, which fights infections by boosting white blood cells, fell 32% to $711 million, and sales of kidney drug Sensipar plunged 73% to $109 million in the face of increased competition from cheaper generics and biosimilars.

The company said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings of $14.20 to $14.45 per share on revenue of $22.8 billion to $23 billion. It had previously forecast $13.75 to $14.30 per share on revenue of $22.4 billion to $22.9 billion.

Analysts' earnings estimates for 2019 were already ahead of the older forecast at $14.39 per share.

Amgen's revenue for the quarter declined to $5.74 billion from $5.9 billion a year ago, which was slightly better than analysts’ estimates of $5.64 billion.



(Reporting By Deena BeasleyEditing by Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)