Falling Epogen sales crash on Amgen plant

Falling sales of Amgen's ($AMGN) anemia drug Epogen have come home to roost in Longmont, CO, where the company will idle the facility where the drug is made in bulk.

The plant will actually ramp up production over the next 12 to 15 months and then production will be halted, Peggy Krause, a local spokeswoman, tells the Longmont Times-Call. The plant will be idled and not shuttered so that it could be restarted if demand increases, Krause says.

The Longmont operations also house quality control and process development and engineering operations for the entire company so Krause could not say how many of the 485 employees working there might be affected.

Epogen sales have been on a steady decline, hitting $2 billion last year, down from $2.6 billion in 2009, as new Medicare reimbursement rules drained off demand and new rivals picked up sales. Affymax ($AFFY) got approval in March for peginesatide, its anemia drug. Mircera from Roche ($RHHBY) is expected to hit in 2014 and biosimilars as soon as 2015.

In its quarterly report filed yesterday, the company noted some of the issues saying that falling sales had resulted in a 28% decrease in unit demand for Epogen for the 6 months that ended June 30. 

- here's the Times-Call story 
- see the 10Q filing

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