Affymax readies blockbuster alternative to Epogen

Affymax hopes to get an FDA approval for its experimental anemia treatment Hematide next year, and that could leave the developer perfectly positioned to take advantage of new Medicare rules capping the cost of kidney dialysis at $250. And if Affymax can scoot into the market under the hefty price for Amgen's Epogen, analysts say the new drug could easily squeeze out what has long been the standard of care.

"When we go under the bundle, everything's going to be about money," specialist Julia Inrig at UT Southwestern Medical Center tells Bloomberg. If Hematide is cheaper to buy and use than Epogen, "its use could significantly increase, and it could potentially drive Epogen out of the market."

Cowen & Co. analyst Phil Nadeau says an approval next year would leave Affymax poised to reap $1.1 billion in blockbuster sales by 2015. Amgen, which currently has the only anemia drugs used in kidney dialysis, charges $8,445 per year for Epogen. And as a synthetic peptide Hematide should be cheaper to make than Epogen.

- here's the report from Bloomberg