Amgen End CETP Inhibitor After Seeing Merck Data

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    Amgen has officially ended its development of the CETP inhibitor that it received in its $1.55 billion takeover of Dezima. This decision sees AMG 899 join CETp inhibitors from Eli Lilly, Merck, and Pfizer on the scrap heap and marks the end of leading companies involvement with the once-hyped drug class.

    Amgen signaled the program ending in July 2016 when EVP Sean Harper said investment in AMG 899 was suspended pending date on Merck’s rival CETP drug. Following the suspension, Merck posted data linking its CETP to a slight, but statistically significant, improvement that ultimately fell short of the level it needed to justify filing for approval.

    The suspension of AMG 899 triggered non cash charges that were big enough to wipe out the savings Amgen made through its cost-cutting agenda in the third quarter. Acquisition-related adjustments for the quarter came to $287 million, a figure Amgen said is primarily linked to AMG 899. Amgen is looking to outlicense the drug but is unlikely to recoup a fraction of what is paid for Dezima.

    The giant biotech turned heads in 2015 after paying $300 million upfront to land a drug in the already tarnished CETP class. Back then, Pfizer and Roche’s blow up had already dampened expectations for CETP inhibitors. One month after the Amgen-Dezima deal, Eli Lilly stopped the CEPT phase 3 after a failed futility review.
    Amgen’s official exit from the field leaves a couple of smaller companies in the CETp race. DalCor Pharmaceuticals is running a phase 3 trial of dalcetrapib, a drug discarded by Roche. And Korea’s Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical is testing its CETP drug in combination with statins in a midphase trial.

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