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Ex-Amgen R&D chief Perlmutter in talks with other companies about next move

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Roger Perlmutter appears to have no plans to slow down after ending his 11-year tenure as Amgen's ($AMGN) R&D chief last month after a major leadership shakeup announced late last year at the world's largest biotech company. In an interview with Xconomy, Perlmutter says he's already in talks with academic institutes and companies, and he's even considering involvement in a smaller company.

After investor ire over big R&D costs and stagnant stock growth at Amgen, Perlmutter and Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer are moving on and thinking about what's next. For Perlmutter, his tenure at the biotech giant was marked with highs (expanding the market for Enbrel) and lows (big R&D bets that never paid off), according to the interview. The Thousand Oaks, CA-based company now has one of the biggest biotech drug businesses in the world with about $15 million in yearly revenue, but, when asked to talk about the things that went wrong, Perlmutter told Xconomy: "There's so many, it's hard to know where to start."

Drug development, of course, is an expensive and risky game in which the vast majority of programs that enter development end in failure. And over the past decade, the bar for getting FDA approval for new drugs has risen and raised the costs of development, Perlmutter said. Yet Perlmutter, who's now under contract as a consultant for Amgen, pointed out that the company has some products with big potential in the pipeline, noting that AMG145 could become an alternative for patients who fail to respond to statins in the blockbuster market for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Perlmutter, who didn't say which groups he's talking to about his next career move, has become one of the biggest names in biotech R&D, and it should be interesting to see where he lands next. He told Xconomy: "I'm more committed than ever to the application of fundamental research to important problems in clinical care. I'm prepared to look in a variety of things, whether that's in the for-profit or non-profit settings." He later added: "I'm no less energetic than I was 11 years ago when I took the Amgen job."

- learn more in the Xconomy interview

Special Report: Amgen - Biotech's Biggest Spenders 2011

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