Under copycat attack, Amgen punches back with its own biosimilars

Amgen spent years bracing for biosimilar and generic competition to its top-selling meds, but now its own biosimilars are kicking in sales to help fill those patent-cliff gaps.

Amgen’s biosimilars pulled in $173 million in the third quarter—up from $19 million during the same period last year—which at least softened the blow from copycats to Sensipar, Neulasta and Neupogen. Overall, the company's revenues slipped 3% to $5.7 billion.

The company in July launched biosimilars to Roche blockbusters Herceptin and Avastin in the U.S., targeting a $10 billion market alongside its marketing partner Allergan. By August, UnitedHealthcare had put those copycats first in line on its nationwide formulary—a major win for Amgen. Meanwhile, in Europe, the company markets biosimilars to Herceptin and AbbVie’s megablockbuster Humira.  

The drugmaker’s third-quarter results show how those biosim efforts are paying off. The $173 million third-quarter haul is more than twice the $82 million Amgen's biosims ginned up during the second quarter. 

RELATED: Amgen sales slide as copies dig into Sensipar, Neulasta 

Amgen needs the boost. The third-quarter revenue drop followed a 3% decline in the second quarter and flat sales for the first quarter of 2019. 

Patent losses and competition have obviously taken a toll. Sensipar sales slipped 73% to $109 million during the third quarter, while Neulasta fell 32% to $711 million. Neupogen and Epogen sales declined by 36% and 15%, respectively, to $54 million and $215 million.

RELATED: Amgen escalates PCSK9 pricing war with permanent 60% price cut on Repatha

Besides the biosimilars' chip-in for the third quarter, Amgen's newer branded meds helped out, too. Its migraine prevention med Aimovig grew sales to $66 million, coming in ahead of Eli Lilly rival Emgality, which pulled in $47.7 million during the period. Still, Aimovig missed analyst expectations. 

Meanwhile, Repatha, the drug at the center of a price battle with Sanofi and Regeneron’s rival Praluent, grew revenues 40% to $168 million. Amgen lowered the drug's price and will remove a higher-priced version from the market next year. Osteoporosis drug Prolia, multiple myeloma med Kyprolis and cancer-fighter Blincyto each turned in double-digit sales growth as well.