) recently announced a strategic alliance with Japanese company,
Astellas Pharma Inc.
), for the development and commercialization of new drugs for a
wide range of diseases in Japan.
The pipeline candidates covered under the alliance include
four biologics and a small molecule targeting the cardiovascular,
bone disease and cancer markets.
The companies will focus on the joint development and
commercialization of five Amgen candidates - AMG 145 (cholesterol
management), romosozumab (osteoporosis), rilotumumab (gastric
cancer), AMG 337 (gastric cancer) and blinatumomab (acute
lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma).
While AMG145 is in phase II development in Japan, romosozumab
is in phase II/III development. Rilotumumab is in phase I
development in Japan. Amgen and Astellas expect the first
product launch in Japan in 2016.
In addition to jointly developing and commercializing the
above-mentioned candidates, the companies intend to set up a
joint venture in Tokyo. Through this joint venture, Amgen
Astellas BioPharma KK, Amgen will look to establish and
strengthen on-the-ground capabilities in Japan. Amgen Astellas
BioPharma is scheduled to commence operations from Oct 2013 and
is expected to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amgen in
This deal is in-line with Amgen's strategy of expanding its
presence across the world. Earlier this year, Amgen had announced
its intention to build a new manufacturing facility in the Tuas
Biomedical Park area of Singapore. The company expects to
manufacture both clinical as well as commercial products in this
More recently, Amgen announced its intention to set up a joint
venture in China with Zhejiang Beta Pharma Co., Ltd. The joint
venture will focus on the commercialization of Amgen's colorectal
cancer drug, Vectibix, in China.
The Astellas deal makes sense as it will bring together
Amgen's development capabilities and Astellas' experience and
strong presence in the Japanese market.
While Amgen is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock, Astellas is a
Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) stock. Biopharma companies that currently
look well-positioned include
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
). Both are Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.
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