Amgen studying Otezla for coronavirus, first-quarter results beat Street estimates

(Reuters) – Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) on Thursday reported better-than-expected first-quarter results on Thursday and said it plans to study psoriasis drug Otezla as a potential treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Otezla, which Amgen acquired last year from Celgene Corp as part of Celgene’s buyout by Bristol Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N), is a pill that helps reduce overactive inflammation. Other similar medicines are also being tested to see if they can help COVID-19 patients.

Amgen, which maintained its full-year earnings forecast, also said it is working with partner Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp (ADPT.O) to identify antibodies targeting the novel coronavirus that may be developed into a drug to potentially prevent or treat COVID-19.

Amgen said strong first-quarter sales of Otezla, along with higher volume sales of drugs like cholesterol treatment Repatha, contributed to an 11% increase in revenue for the period.

The company last year launched a lower-priced Repatha option aimed at reducing out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients.

The biotechnology company reported an adjusted profit of $4.17 per share, up 17% from a year earlier and well above analysts’ average expectations of $3.76, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Amgen said the results were driven by revenue of $6.16 billion and fewer shares outstanding. That topped Wall Street estimates for revenue of just under $6 billion.

Net profit fell 3% to $3.07 per share due to higher operating costs that were partially offset by the lower share count.

For 2020, the Thousand Oaks, California-based company said it still expects adjusted earnings of $14.85 to $15.60 per share on revenue of $25 billion to $25.6 billion.

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