Despite increased competition from biosimilars and blockbuster mergers by its rivals, Amgen revenues rose 8 percent to $21.67 billion in 2015 from $20.06 billion in 2014.
Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant Amgen released its fourth-quarter earnings after markets closed on Jan. 28. Quarterly revenues were also up 4 percent to $5.54 billion in 2015 from $5.33 billion in 2014. Amgen noted a 3 percent increase in sales, driven by its rheumatoid arthritis treatment Enbrel.
Enbrel sales increased by 8 percent during the fourth quarter from $1.34 billion in 2014 to $1.44 billion in 2015.
Amgen slightly exceeded analyst expectations of $5.53 billion in fourth-quarter revenue, according to Yahoo Finance. Earnings per share hit analyst estimates of $2.39 per share.
Product sales also increased 8 percent on the year. Other than Enbrel, which increased 14 percent in sales on the year to $5.36 billion in 2015, two other Amgen blockbuster drugs had modest declines.
Neulasta helps the body make white blood cells after receiving cancer medications. Its sales decreased by 2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014 from $1.18 billion to $1.15 billion in 2015. Neulasta sales did increase 3 percent on the year though, from $4.6 billion in 2014 to $4.72 billion in 2015.
Amgen’s Neupogen boosts white blood cell counts in chemotherapy patients and other patients with compromised immune systems. Neupogen sales decreased 4 percent from $274 million during the fourth quarter of 2014 to $203 million in 2015. Neupogen’s annual sales decreased by 9 percent from $1.16 billion in 2014 to $1.05 billion in 2015.
The drug faced competition when the FDA approved the first biosimilar in the U.S. in March.
Biosimilars are similar to generics but are made with living organisms and aren’t identical to the complex compounds they replicate. The biosimilar Zarxio, which is made by Switzerland-based rival Novartis, is 15 percent cheaper than Neupogen.
On the fourth-quarter earnings call, Tony Hooper, executive vice president of global commercial operations, said Amgen wasn’t fazed by the competition.
“We’ve had competition on the market for over year now and now a biosimilar and we hold 76 percent of the market share,” Hooper said.
Amgen’s operating expenses also decreased by 4 percent during the fourth quarter and 3 percent on the year partly because of changes in foreign currency values compared to a strong dollar.
Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 6 percent during the year from $4.41 billion in 2014 to $4.66 billion but were primarily offset by new product launches.
Amgen also saved money in 2015 on research and development and its selling, general and administrative expenses because of its “transformation.” On July 29, 2014, Amgen announced it would run as a leaner company by cutting between 2,400 and 2,900 jobs worldwide.
At the time, Amgen said it would retain a staff in Thousand Oaks, but with fewer employees. Amgen also said that it would close facilities in Colorado and Washington. Amgen has said little about the layoffs since.
-Contact Philip Joens at [email protected]