CMS keeps current anemia drug rules--for now

When is no decision a good decision? When you're Amgen, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decides not to change reimbursements for key anemia drugs. At least not for now; the agency will make its final decision in June. CMS has been mulling limits on the use of Amgen's Aranesp, and Procrit, which is marketed by Johnson & Johnson.

CMS has been skeptical that these anemia drugs deliver positive outcomes for patients, such as preventing blood transfusions that kidney patients may require. The agency reiterated this concern in announcing the decision to keep current reimbursement rules, saying there's no proof the drugs do anything other than raise hemoglobin levels.

That skepticism worried some analysts, Forbes reports. Deutsche Bank's Robin Karnauskas pointed out the CMS's language was "very cautious," implying that it might change its views by June. But others were more sanguine. "This still leaves the door open for a future and final ruling," JP Morgan analyst Geoff Meacham said (as quoted by Reuters), "but at the end of the day, we think that a worse case scenario was clearly avoided."

- read the Forbes story
- get more from Reuters