Amgen's Next Opponents

Amgen just beat back an attempt by Swiss drug giant Roche to invade its turf: the $10 billion U.S. market for drugs to treat the anemia that occurs after kidney dialysis or treatment with cancer chemotherapy. But even as Amgen defends its anemia franchise against threats on all sides--including cuts in what insurers and the government will pay for--investors will ask whether it can conquer a new disease: osteoporosis, the chronic bone weakening that afflicts 10 million Americans, most of them women. Amgen Chief Executive Kevin Sharer has hopes that a new drug, denosumab, could become a "double blockbuster," both as a twice-a-year treatment for osteoporosis and as a remedy for cancers of the bone.

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