Kidney rules exempt oral meds from Amgen, Genzyme

There's a silver lining in new Medicare rules for dialysis patients for Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), which stands to lose a big chunk of sales of its IV anemia drug Epogen. And there's a potential boost for Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ). The "bundled" payments for dialysis--which will cover IV drugs as well as dialysis services--won't include oral drugs until 2014.

While dialysis centers stand to lose money on IV drugs because they can't bill for them separately, they can still administer oral drugs the same old way. So Amgen's oral drug for kidney patients, Sensipar, and Genzyme's Renagel and Renvela won't suffer from the new reimbursement rules.

As Bloomberg reports, the reprieve on oral drugs will give Amgen and Genzyme a "transitional period" that allows them to maintain revenue on those treatments, Sanford Bernstein's Geoffrey Porges tells the news service. According to Genzyme, that period could be used to help assess the bundled-payment system. "Genzyme is encouraged by CMS' final decision, as we believe it will...[provide] the time needed to collect data to document the current standard of care, enabling assessment...of any unintended negative consequences that the new bundled payment system may have on the management and outcomes of dialysis patients," SVP Dan Regan says in a statement.

- see the release from Genzyme
- get more from Bloomberg