Amgen kills anemia drug rebates

Answering critics of its pricing policies, Amgen is discontinuing rebates and discounts designed to boost sales of its anemia drugs. Some said the deals induced doctors to overuse Aranesp--the anemia drug targeted at cancer patients--at a time when questions had arisen about the drugs' safety, especially at higher doses.

Oncologists will still get some up-front discounts, but they won't get rebates for Aranesp use. Nor will doctors get discounts on two other meds, Neulasta and Neupogen, based on their use of Aranesp.

As you know, some studies have suggested that Aranesp and its sister drug Procrit, sold by Johnson & Johnson, could cause cancer to grow, hasten patients' deaths and cause heart problems.

Amgen has said that its discounts and rebates haven't prompted overuse of Aranesp. The company said the pricing changes are a move to "clear up those possible misperceptions."

- read the New York Times story