Processing Magazine

Amgen to pay J&J $200 million to settle antitrust suit

July 14, 2008
According to Reuters, Amgen Inc said recently it will pay Johnson & Johnson $200 million to settle litigation alleging drug discounts offered by Amgen to cancer clinics violated antitrust laws.

Amgen, the world''s largest biotechnology company in terms of revenue, said in a statement its conduct was not unlawful and it admits to no wrongdoing.

Johnson & Johnson said it expects to record an after-tax gain of about $120 million in the third quarter of this year due to the settlement.

J&J''s Ortho Biotech unit had argued in a 2005 lawsuit that Amgen was bundling sales of its infection-fighting and anti-anemia drugs in a way that forced cancer clinics to buy Amgen''s Aranesp rather than J&J''s competing drug Procrit.

Aranesp is a longer-lasting version of Amgen''s anemia drug Epogen, which is marketed for treatment of kidney disease patients. Johnson & Johnson holds a license for sales of the older drug -- under the brand name Procrit -- as a treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Amgen also sells two other drugs, Neulasta and Neupogen, that increase production of infection-fighting white blood cells and are also used in chemotherapy patients.

Sales of both Aranesp and Procrit have suffered since early 2007 following the emergence of studies associating the red blood cell-boosting drugs with a higher risk of death for some cancer patients.

Total Aranesp sales fell 12 percent last year to $3.6 million while Procrit sales slid 9 percent to $2.9 billion.

A panel of experts recommended in March that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration change the drugs'' labels to say that they should not be given to patients with potentially curable cancers who are undergoing treatment, or to patients with advanced breast cancer or head and neck cancer. A decision by the FDA is expected any day.