Amgen aims to make the most of Amjevita's head start amid broader biosim lull, Lumakras miss

The biosimilars business is tough to conquer, but Amgen hopes its newest launch can help it overcome a slowdown for its older copycat products and a lull for new cancer med Lumakras.

Boasting a five-month lead over its next competitor in the States, Amgen’s Humira biosimilar Amjevita is “well positioned for success in the U.S.,” CEO Robert Bradway said on a Tuesday call with analysts.

Amgen just launched the product Tuesday after years of waiting following a 2017 patent settlement with AbbVie. Other Humira biosimilars are set to reach the U.S. market starting in July.

With its head start, Amgen is "trying to ensure that there is no reason to switch away from Amjevita," Murdo Gordon, Amgen’s EVP of global commercial operations, said on the call. 

Those efforts could be bolstered by a potential interchangeability tag, the drug’s high concentration and the fact that Amgen already has a citrate-free product on the market, making injections less uncomfortable, executives explained.

Beyond Amjevita, Amgen is eyeing six more biosimilar launches in the U.S. and abroad “between now and the next decade,” CEO Bradway said, noting the field represents “another source of long-term growth for us.”

That said, it hasn’t exactly been easygoing for Amgen’s biosim roster in recent months. Sales of the company’s oncology biosims slipped 40% year-over-year for the fourth quarter and 30% for all of 2022.

Mvasi, the company's biosimilar to Roche's Avastin, and Kanjinti, its Herceptin copycat, hold "leading" market share, Gordon explained. But Amgen expects "continued net selling price deterioration and accelerating volume declines, driven by increased competition," he added. That, in turn, will continue to drag on sales.

For the coming year, Amgen expects to book less than $750 million in combined sales for its cancer drug copycats Kanjinti and Mvasi. In 2022, the products generated about $1.22 billion. 

Elsewhere, there were signs of weakness for key cancer launch Lumakras. While the med generated $285 million for the full year, Amgen reported that sales fell 5% quarter-over-quarter to end the year. 

Global Lumakras sales came in at $71 million for the fourth quarter, missing analyst estimates of $98 million. Part of that miss was attributed to a $12 million charge against the product after Amgen reached a reimbursement agreement in France, Gordon said.

Overall, Amgen reported $6.8 billion in fourth-quarter revenue. Sales for all of 2022 reached $26.3 billion.