Two top Amgen executives are stepping down

Amgen Inc. said Thursday that senior executives in charge of research and development and commercialization are leaving the company.

The announcement came as the drugmaker said sales of many of its key drugs brought in more revenue in the quarter than expected.

Both the results and the personnel moves emerged as drug companies have come under scrutiny lately for the cost of their treatments. In May, President Trump unveiled a blueprint aimed at curbing high drug prices.

Amgen said Thursday that it had canceled a planned drug price increase it had scheduled for July in May before the president introduced his plan.

Pfizer Inc. also said earlier this month that it would defer some drug-price increases, reversing course after President Trump had publicly criticized the company.

Thursday, Amgen said it had minimal net price increases in the previous 18 months and the company expects that trend to continue.

Still, Amgen has continued to bring new costly drugs to market.

Aimovig, an injectable treatment for migraines, was released in the U.S. in May and has a $6,900 annual price tag. Some insurance companies and pharmacy-benefit managers have pushed back against higher-priced drugs by not covering them. Amgen said that it has commercial deals that cover about 30% of the potential market and that the initial uptake of the drug has exceeded its expectations. The company didn’t provide financial numbers for the drug.

Sean Harper, Amgen’s head of research and development, is leaving the company to pursue opportunities in the early-stage biotechnology space.

Anthony Hooper, who is currently the head of global commercial operations, is leaving his role in September.

David Reese, who is already at Amgen as head of translational sciences and oncology, is replacing Mr. Harper. Murdo Gordon, who is currently chief commercial officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., is replacing Mr. Hooper, who is stepping down from his role Thursday.

Both are set to leave the company after helping their replacements’ transition and will get full retirement benefits. Dr. Harper will leave at the end of 2018 and Mr. Hooper will leave at the end of next year.

In its latest quarter, Amgen said revenue rose 4.3% to $6.06 billion, above the $5.73 billion expected by analysts polled by FactSet. The company also reported a net profit of $2.3 billion, or $3.48 a share, compared with $2.15 billion, or $2.91 a share, in the same quarter a year before. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share came in at $3.83, above the $3.55 expected by analysts.

Repatha sales grew 78% to $148 million, above the $143 million expected by analysts. The drug, a class of PCSK9 inhibitors that lowers cholesterol, has struggled to gain approvals from insurance companies because of its price tag. The drug has listed for more than $14,000 a year.

Psoriasis drug Enbrel declined 11% to $1.3 billion, below the $1.33 billion expected. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a lower-priced replica of Enbrel, though it was delayed by Amgen’s legal challenges. The Food and Drug Administration unveiled a plan this month to ease the approval and market entry of so-called "biosimilars."

Amgen also raised its adjusted earnings and revenue guidance for 2018.

Shares rose 1% in after-hours trading.

Write to Austen Hufford at [email protected].

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