August 26, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
Amgen has announced today that it has agreed to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10.4 billion, giving Amgen, the largest biotechnology company by sales, access to a new blood cancer drug, Onyx’s Kyprolis. In an all-cash takeover, Amgen is to pay $125 a share for Onyx’s outstanding stock, with the acquisition expected to close at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Krypolis (Carfilzomib), from Kypolis is an injectable tetrapeptide epoxyketone and a selective proteasome inhibitor, approved by the FDA on 20 July 2012 to treat patients with multiple myeloma, the second most commonly diagnosed blood cancer, who have received at least two prior therapies, including Velcade (bortezomib) and an immunomodulatory therapy.
FDA’s approval of Kyprolis provided a treatment option to patients with multiple myeloma whose disease has progressed despite the use of available therapies, and the drug racked $125 million in sales during the first half of this year. $1 billion in sales are expected by 2015 if the drug manages a successful launch in Europe and gets approved for a broader population, all the while competing for market share with Celgene’s recently released Pomalyst.
Amgen’s bid for Onyx fills a gap in the California-based company portfolio, which largely consists of drugs to support cancer patients, like Neupogen (Filgrastim, for the treatment of neutropenia) and Neulasta (Pegfilgrastim), rather than treat cancer patients. Since Amgen’s portfolio consists largely of biologicals, the looming threat of biosimilars expected to hit the market in the coming years is another source of pressure for Amgen to diversify its portfolio.
Onyx is currently developing Oprozomib, another blood cancer drug, and is studying Kyprolis in an expanded group of patients. Alongside these two products, Onyx sells Nexavar for liver and kidney cancer in partnership with Bayer AG. Onyx generated $362 million in revenue in 2012, with 80% coming from Nexavar and the stomach-cancer treatment Stivarga. The company gets a 20% royalty on Stivarga from Bayer.
As for Amgen, alongside the acquisition of Krypolis and Oprozomib, the company is currently in the late development phases of eight cancer medicines that will generate clinical trial data over the next three years, Chief Executive Officer Robert Bradway said in February.
Kyprolis competes with the Celgene Corp drug Revlimid (Lenalidomide). Celgene also has a new oral myeloma treatment, Pomalyst, approved in February 8, 2013 by the FDA.