Analyst: Amgen to score big on Vectibix

Amgen sales could get a significant boost from two upcoming Vectibix trials. Such a boost, in fact, that a company selling its biggest competitor--Erbitux--saw itself downgraded by Merrill Lynch. Yes, Merck KGaA shares dropped 3.5 percent on expectations that Vectibix will show itself to be as effective as Erbitux--and possibly fewer side effects to boot.

In upgrading Amgen shares to "outperform," Bernstein Research analyst Geoffrey Porges said he expects the trial results to show that Vectibix works about as well as Erbitux, which to date has been the more popular of the two cancer meds. Those trials are testing Vectibix as a primary and second-line treatment for colorectal cancer. It is currently only approved as a third-line treatment.

The studies are due for reporting by September. If the trial results are indeed positive, Vectibix sales could jump to as much as $1.1 billion by 2015, Porges said. Last year, the drug only pulled in $153 million for Amgen.

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