Amgen shares leap on late-stage denosumab data

Amgen shares got a big boost after the biotech giant posted new late-stage data on denosumab demonstrating that the bone drug outperformed a competing therapy from Novartis.

Shares shot up close to 15 percent on the results of a Phase III trial comparing denosumab--Amgen's brightest hope for a near-term blockbuster--in breast cancer patients. Researchers said that denosumab was better than Zometa at reducing or delaying bone complications. Data from another Phase III study will be released later in the year.

"We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this important study, which shows that denosumab can reduce or delay the serious complications of bone metastases in breast cancer patients better than the current standard of care, and with a favorable benefit/risk profile," said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, executive vice president of research and development at Amgen.

Analysts were quick to hail the news as a big step forward for Amgen. By getting out late-stage data demonstrating denosumab's superiority to existing therapies, the developer can quickly win over medical specialists in the field, building market share at a fast pace. And that means a lot for a company that relies heavily on its older anemia therapies for much of its revenue. Jefferies & Co. has pegged potential 2012 sales at $1.2 billion, but average estimates range around $1.8 billion a year.

- here's Amgen's announcement
- read the report from the Wall Street Journal