Amgen gets coveted cancer OK for denosumab

Hear the whoops of triumph from Thousand Oaks, California? That's Amgen's HQ staff, celebrating its new cancer indication for the bone drug denosumab. Approved in June as an osteoporosis treatment--sold under the brand name Prolia--the drug got the FDA nod for fracture prevention in certain cancer patients. This second indication is key to Amgen's hopes for the new med, promising to boost sales to as much as $2.4 billion by 2015, analysts say.

"This is a big, important step for the company, launching a new product which will help put the company back on a growth trajectory," Citigroup analyst Yaron Werber explains to Bloomberg. Indeed, Amgen-watchers have been anticipating denosumab for some time now, pinning big hopes on the drug's success. As has Amgen itself; EVP Roger Perlmutter told Bloomberg today that the new approval "is the culmination of more than 15 years of effort by our company."

Set to be sold in the oncology market as Xgeva--at $1,650 per injection, given every four weeks--denosumab also has the potential for another use. The company is studying the drug's potential for keeping cancer out of bone, with data expected later this year. That third indication could add another half-billion to denosumab's sales potential.

- see Amgen's release
- read the Bloomberg coverage
- get more from the New York Times