UPDATED: Amgen beats in Q4 as established drugs come through

Amgen ($AMGN) had a steady stream of significant new drug approvals in 2015, like the FDA nod for its Repatha which is in a new class of cholesterol fighters that are expected to generate significant sales. But Repatha and several others are too early in their launch to register separately on the sales line, and it was growth in sales of Amgen's tried-and-true drugs that allowed the biotech to breeze by analyst expectations.

Powered by an 8% sales increase from its top-selling drug, arthritis fighter Enbrel, the Thousand Oaks, CA-based Amgen reported earnings per share of $2.61 for Q4, up 21%. Revenue was $5.54 billion, beating forecasts of $5.33 billion, Zacks reported. Sales of Enbrel were $1.44 billion in the quarter Sales of blockbuster hopeful multiple myeloma med Kyprolis were up 63% to $148 million in Q4

Repatha, Amgen's recently approved leukemia drug Blincyto and its immunotherapy Imlygic, approved only Tuesday, meanwhile were lumped together in its "other" category, registering sales of $88 million combined for the quarter.

Repatha is part of a new class of treatments called PCSK9 inhibitors that are designed to help patients who can't get their LDL, or bad, cholesterol under control with just statins. There are big expectations for the category.

Anthony Hooper, executive VP of global commercial operations, in a call with analysts said that "Repatha is off to a strong competitive start," according to a transcript of the call from Seeking Alpha. He said that negotiations with payers is going well and 80% of patients covered by commercial payers are covered. But he cautioned that "payer utilization management criteria are limiting the uptake."

Amgen also provided financial guidance for this year, saying it expected revenues $22 billion to $22.5 billion and earnings per share in the range of $10.60 to $11 a share.

- here's the Amgen release 
- more from Zacks
- transcript of analyst call from Seeking Alpha (sub. req.)

Special Reports: Top 20 orphan drugs by 2018 - Kyprolis - Velcade | Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars - Kyprolis - Onyx Pharmaceuticals

Read more on