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Amgen beats Regeneron, Sanofi in cholesterol drug sales

April 21, 2017

No. 1 biotech Amgen (AMGN) trumped Regeneron (REGN) and Sanofi (SNY) this week as prescriptions of LDL cholesterol-buster Repatha outstripped Praluent’s figures, an analyst said Friday in an analysis of prescription trends.

Repatha prescriptions rose 4% week over week as Praluent prescriptions fell 2%, Mizuho analyst Salim Syed wrote in a note to clients. Since March 17, when Amgen released the results of a study on the matter dubbed Fourier — conducted over a period of more than two years — Repatha scripts are up 11% to Praluent’s 2%.

But at the close on stock market today, Amgen stock fell 1% to 160.41. Shares of Regeneron lost 1.7% to 370.12 while Sanofi was off 1.6% to 44.09. Regenero and Sanofi are partnered on Praluent.

The LDL cholesterol battle between Amgen and Regeneron/Sanofi stems from an ongoing patent lawsuit. A judge recently sided with Amgen, saying Regeneron and Sanofi infringed on a pair of its patents in a ruling that protected Repatha and banned sales of Praluent.

Praluent will remain on shelves pending the appeals process. Praluent, like Repatha, is a PCSK9 inhibitor. It works by blocking the interaction between the PCSK9 protein and the LDL receptor to cut down on “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

The Fourier study found that cutting down on that bad cholesterol led to a reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary revascularization, but does not cut down on the risk of cardiovascular death.

Still, Amgen is hopeful the study will help it persuade payers to reimburse patients for the costs of their cholesterol-reducing medications. Analysts are doubtful. Payers see $5,000 per year as a fair value for Repatha. Amgen charges $7,700 to $11,200.

But Amgen’s data could get some backup from Regeneron, Sanofi and Medicines Co. (MDCO). Regeneron and Sanofi are enrolling higher-risk patients in a similar trial over three to four years. Medicines Co. is also planning a heart study for its cholesterol drug.

Syed has a buy rating and 195 price target on Amgen stock.

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