With Tepezza sales still stagnant, Amgen has a plan to boost the newly acquired TED drug

As Amgen’s $27.8 billion buyout of Horizon Therapeutics became official earlier this month, one of the first orders of business for the California biotech giant was to get acquired blockbuster Tepezza back on track.

After generating sales of $1.66 billion in its first full year on the market (2021) and $1.97 billion last year, the momentum has disappeared for Tepezza, which is the lone approved treatment for thyroid eye disease.

In the third quarter, sales of Tepezza reached $453 million, the company said on Tuesday. While Amgen was quick to point out that it was a 2% increase from the previous quarter, it also was an 8% decline year over year.

Amgen has a plan to get Tepezza’s groove back, using a playbook that the company employed with vasculitis drug Tavneos after its 2020 acquisition of Chemocentryx.

“We realized there was a low level of awareness of Tavneos,” Murdo Gordon, Amgen’s VP of global commercial operations, said during a conference call. “We added reminder messaging to some of our broader rheumatology-covered sales forces to increase awareness of the data associated with Tavneos.”

Gordon said Amgen's awareness efforts paid dividends for Tavneos and he looks for the same to happen with Tepezza. Amgen sales teams who cover endocrinologists can provide the same broadened awareness of the value of the treatment, augmenting the efforts of the rare disease sales groups.

Tavneos sales were up 23% in the quarter to $37 million, Amgen said.

“Now that we reflect on a year of ownership of Chemocentryx, we can really start to see the benefit kicking in,” Robert Bradway, Amgen’s CEO said. “It’s not like you walk in, flip the light switch and suddenly things are performing on a different track.”   

There were some positive signs with Tepezza in the quarter. Amgen pointed to a greater than 50% year-over-year increase in the number of Tepezza prescribers, which the company chalked up to an April FDA label expansion that widens the eligible patient population for Tepezza by roughly 100,000 in the United States.

Amgen also cited policy changes by payers that are helping more eligible patients access Tepezza.

As for overall sales, Amgen revenues grew 5% in the quarter to $6.9 billion. Earnings per share came in at $4.96, well above the analyst consensus of $4.68.

The company raised its 2023 revenue projection to between $28 billion to $28.4 billion, up from a window of $26.6 billion to $27.4 billion, as sales from Horizon products will be recorded by Amgen for most of the fourth quarter.

Sales of cholesterol drug Repatha were up 31% to $406 million, while osteoporosis treatment Prolia saw an increase of 14% to $986 million. Amgen’s biosimilar version of Humira, Amjevita, posted a sales increase of 30% to $152 million.

On the flip side, sales of arthritis drugs Enbrel—which will be subject to Medicare price negotiations in 2026—fell by 6% to $1.1 billion. Otezla sales were down 10% to $567 million.

“Otezla demand in the quarter continued to be impacted by free drug programs for newly launched competition,” Salim Syed, an analyst for Mizuho, wrote in a note to investors. “For the remainder of 2023, we expect demand to be affected by these free drug programs.”