The UK's GlaxoSmithKline has grabbed licensing rights to Amgen's blockbuster osteoporosis drug denosumab, agreeing to pay $120 million in near-term milestones to sell the therapy in a host of markets such as China, Brazil and India. Amgen, which also will receive royalties, retained marketing rights in the U.S. and Canada.
Analysts speculate that the drug, which appears to be closing in on an FDA approval, can earn $2 billion a year once it hits the market for postmenopausal osteoporosis. For Amgen, denosumab sales represent a key part of its future revenue as its existing anemia franchise therapies produce declining revenue streams. Teaming up with Glaxo to divvy up the global market makes a lot of sense to the analysts covering the company.
In trials, denosumab has proven to be superior to existing osteoporosis drugs, acting faster and without the serious side effects linked to drugs like Fosamax. In addition to keeping control of the marketing rights to denosumab in the U.S. for osteoporosis, Amgen also kept the marketing rights for any future use against cancer.
Amgen also reported that while its revenue dipped slightly in the second quarter, a jump in the sale of Enbrel helped the biotech giant boost profits by 40 percent. "Concerns we had about the pressure of the recession on health care have moderated," said Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer. "They're certainly not gone, but they have moderated compared to the first quarter."