JPM: How will Amgen make its $13.4B Otezla buy pay off? New launches, for one, CEO says

amgen
Amgen will look to expand Otezla outside the approximately 30 markets in which it is approved. (Amgen)

SAN FRANCISCO—When Amgen shelled out $13.4 billion late last year to pick up Celgene's blockbuster immunology med Otezla, it made a calculated guess the drug had some untapped fuel in its commercial tank. Now, Amgen is looking to rev up sales with new indications and launches in new international markets.

Although scant on details, Amgen CEO Bob Bradway forecast Tuesday that Amgen could squeeze more out of Otezla in the coming years after the drug hit $547 million in sales in the third quarter––assuming Amgen can follow its own mantra and execute. 

"In biopharma, the focus is on innovation, innovation, innovation, and Amgen is execution, execution, execution," Bradway told investors at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. 

In Bradway's telling, Otezla helped Amgen flesh out its immunology portfolio as a counterpart to stalwart Enbrel. 

"We think the stars really aligned for us in 2019 when we were able to acquire Otezla," Bradway said. "Otezla is a great medicine, it has great value for us, and it came at a great time."

RELATED: Amgen, maker of Enbrel, to pick up Celgene's Otezla for $13.4B. Will FTC hit back?

Amgen picked up Otezla in a $13.4 billion deal with Celgene in August as the latter worked to secure its $74 billion merger with Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bristol was forced to sell Otezla to win the Federal Trade Commission's clearance simply because it overlapped with BMS’ own investigational TYK-2 inhibitor, BMS-986165. Despite Amgen's blockbuster Enbrel operating in the same market, the deal passed muster.

At the time, Amgen expected Otezla could enjoy at least low double-digit sales growth on average over the next five years. The Street’s consensus currently has it reaching $2.5 billion in peak sales before presumably going off patent in the U.S. in 2028. At that rate, Amgen will at least be able to get its investment back in full by around 2024.

Looking ahead, Amgen expects phase 3 data for Otezla in mild to moderate psoriasis will read out this year, and the drugmaker hopes to launch the drug beyond the 30-odd international markets where it's currently approved, Bradway said.

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