How Amgen Makes Billions on Just A Few Drugs

As unpleasant as chemotherapy is, infections can make it even worse. As the "old saying" goes, if you can reduce cancer patients’ risk of sepsis, the world will beat a path to your door. Amgen Inc. (AMGN), an American multinational biopharmaceutical company, has accomplished that and extended hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.

Founded in 1980 as Applied Molecular Genetics, Amgen's current specialty is human therapeutics, developing treatments for severe asthma, plaque psoriasis, and small-cell lung cancer.

Amgen employs hundreds of scientists, making it one of the largest employers in Ventura County, California. The company's headquarters are located in Thousand Oaks, California. While the company’s product line is remarkably small (approximately 26 products), Amgen is one of the world's largest independent biotechnology companies.

Key Takeaways

  • Amgen employs hundreds of scientists, making it one of the largest private employers in Ventura County, California.
  • While the company’s product line is small (approximately 26 products), Amgen is one of the world's largest independent biotechnology companies.
  • The company's top-selling drugs in 2021 were ENBREL, Prolia, Otezla, XGEVA, Neulasta, Aranesp, KYPROLIS, Repatha, and Nplate.

Top-Selling Amgen Products

In 2021, the company generated a revenue of $26 billion. The company's top-selling drugs were ENBREL, Prolia, Otezla, XGEVA, Neulasta, Aranesp, KYPROLIS, Repatha, and Nplate.

Enbrel (etanercept) is Amgen's top-selling product. It is used to combat severe arthritis and similar inflammatory diseases. First synthesized in the 1990s, it was sold to a company that Amgen later bought (Immunex) and is patented through 2028. The cost of Enbrel is $1,640.91 per weekly 50-milligram dose. So far, generic attempts at replicating the drug have only been able to reduce that price by a couple of hundred dollars. Amgen sold $4.47 billion worth of Enbrel in the fiscal year 2021.

Another one of Amgen's top-selling drugs is Neulasta. Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) is used to treat neutropenia; it acts as a white blood cell stimulant. The cost of Neulasta is $6,417.99 per dose. Amgen sold $1.73 billion worth of Neulasta in the fiscal year 2021.

In the fiscal year 2021, Amgen reported $4.47 billion in sales from ENBREL, $1.48 billion from Aranesp, and $1.12 billion from KYPROLIS.

Amgen’s second-tier offerings—XGEVA and Prolia–also comprise a large portion of the company’s sales. XGEVA (denosumab) prevents skeletal-related events, and Prolia (denosumab) treats osteoporosis. The cost of XGEVA is $2,717.15 per dose. The cost of Prolia is $1,477.16 per treatment every six months.

Aranesp and KYPROLIS are other products that generate enormous sales for Amgen. Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) is a treatment for anemia, and KYPROLIS (carfilzomib) is an anti-cancer drug. The cost for four milliliters of Aranesp is about $775. The cost for one dose of KYPROLIS is about $500.

Small Product Line Generates Huge Profits

For a pharmaceutical company, 26 products is relatively small. For example, Pfizer has more than 300 products listed on its website and generated $81.3 billion in revenues in 2021. Amgen generated $26 billion in revenues in 2021, nearly one-third of Pfizer's total revenues, with about one-twelfth of the products Pfizer has. Pfizer boasts about 79,000 employees worldwide, while Amgen says it has about 22,000.

So, Amgen has one-third of the employees, one-twelfth of the products, and generates one-third of Phizer's total revenues. With numbers like this, Amgen demonstrates that it is a powerhouse in the pharmaceutical industry.

What Does Amgen Produce?

Amgen uses genetics to develop treatments for serious illnesses. Some examples of its products are ENBREL, Prolia, Otezla, and XGEVA.

What Was Amgen's First Drug?

Amgen's first drug was Epogen, created in 1983 by a team of scientists led by Fu-Kuen Lin.

What Does Amgen Do?

Amgen is a pharmaceutical company that uses advanced genetics to make biological medicines.

The Bottom Line

Amgen and its development team have offered relief to many patients that are suffering. The company has found its market and generated tremendous profits by focusing its resources on alleviating physical pain.

The company faces increasing competition from generic products and biosimilar treatments, but its existing and new products, such as LUMAKRAS (for non-small cell lung cancer) and TEZPIRE (for severe asthma), contributed to growth in 2021 and through 2022, although in the third quarter of 2022 Amgen experienced a 1% decrease in total revenues year-over-year. However, the company expects total revenues in 2022 to equal about $26 billion and earnings per share of $11.46 to $12.17 (GAAP basis).

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