Amgen joins neuroscience exodus

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/LightFieldStudios)
(Image: Getty/LightFieldStudios)

Related tags Amgen Neuroscience Aimovig

In third quarter financials, Amgen announces that it will end its R&D efforts in neuroscience to focus on diseases with a ‘large public health impact.

Amgen becomes the latest company in the pharma space to decide that neuroscience does not reward the investment required.

In third quarter financials, CEO of Amgen, Bob Bradway, cited the “challenges inherent in developing drugs for major neurologic diseases”​ as part of the reasoning for backing away from the space, during an investor call.

It was revealed that the company would hold onto several early R&D projects in the space, by shifting those involved in neuro inflammation over to its broader inflammation pipeline.

The decision was made despite the success Amgen, alongside its partner, Novartis, had in receiving first-in-class approval for Aimovig​ (erenumab) in the US, for the treatment of migraines.

Dave Reese, EVP of R&D at Amgen, clarified that the company decided not to pursue developing treatments for niche diseases in the same therapeutic area because it was focused on “diseases with a large public health impact.”

Both Reese and Bradway stressed that the future of any of Amgen’s research in neuroscience will instead hinge on its work in the field of genetics, with the latter stating that half of the human body’s genes are expressed only in the brain.

The decision follows a trend amongst the larger companies to back away from the neuroscience area, which saw Pfizer make a similar move when it spun-out its portfolio last year​.

Biosimilar boost

In wider news of its Q3 results, the company posted that its total revenues had decreased by 3%, year-on-year, to $5.7bn (€5.1bn).

The fall was explained due to the impact of generic and biosimilar​ competition to its products, which saw sales decline by 1% across its portfolio.

It was not all negative news due to biosimilars, Amgen’s own portfolio of biosimilars managed to achieve sales of $173m in the third quarter. This allowed the company to predict annual sales across its biosimilar business to reach approximately $700m.

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