Amgen’s Cholesterol Drug Performs Well in Study But Still Does Not Meet Investor Expectations

Amgen Inc has a $14,000 cholesterol drug that has been shown to cut the risk of both heart attack and stroke by more than 20 percent in patients who have heart disease. That initially sounds like a very good thing but apparently, the highly-anticipated study of this drug, called Repatha, still fell short of investor expectations. As such, the company’s shares fell 6.4 percent.

More specifically, patients treated with injectable Repatha had a 27 percent lower risk of heart attack and 21 percent lower risk of stroke over two years, compared with taking statins alone.

Basically, the test showed, on Friday, with a clinical benefit that goes beyond the drug’s known ability to cut “bad” LDL cholesterol but it was still lower than what high investors expected. The investors were particularly disappointed that the study did not effectively show the drug could reduce deaths.

Overall, sales for Amgen’s Repatha—as well as its competitor Praluent (from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi)—have not been very good. As such, insurers have been quite reluctant to pay for these treatments instead of standard statins, which only cost about $100 per year. This new data, though, might be more encouraging.

Imperial College London Professor Peter Sever presented the results at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting, in Washington DC, explains: “This is one of the most important trials of cholesterol-lowering since the first statin trial, published 20 years ago. Our results suggest this new, extremely potent class of drug can cut cholesterol dramatically, which could provide great benefit for a lot of people at risk of heart disease and stroke.”
Sever goes on to say: “There are a lot of people already on optimal doses of statins who have levels of cholesterol that could be lowered further. What this trial shows is that if you achieve these really low levels of cholesterol, you get the additional benefit, and you get that without any apparent adverse effects.”

Coronary heart disease afflicts more than 2.3 million people in Britain every year resulting in 69,000 heart attack deaths each year, too.

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