Grassley: Amgen doc rebates skyrocket

Another day, another Grassley letter. You'll recall that earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley demanded documents from Amgen relating to the company's promotions of its anemia drugs. Now, Grassley is asking the company about rebates doctors may have received on those anemia drugs.

A few weeks ago, when an FDA advisory panel met to discuss those anemia drugs and their safety in cancer patients, some of the expert panelists questioned whether Amgen's discounted prices might have encouraged overuse of the meds. Grassley writes in today's letter that a review of some documents previously collected from Amgen found that doctor rebates on Aranesp, one of the anemia drugs, increased markedly from 2004 to 2006. One Alabama cancer center, for instance, got more than $3 million in 2006 compared with $1.3 million in 2004.

The senator is asking for more information on those rebates: how are the amounts determined, for instance? "Some oncology practices in some states are receiving unusually high rebates for purchasing Aranesp," Grassley stated in a press release. "These trends underscore the need for greater transparency in the financial relationships between drug makers and doctors."

- read Grassley's press release (.pdf)
- see the item at Pharmalot

ALSO: Amgen shares dropped yesterday on news of possibly troublesome safety data from a late-stage trial of the osteoporosis remedy denosumab. Report