REUTERS: Amgen Inc on Thursday reported better-than-expected first-quarter results 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 , 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 to identify antibodies targeting the novel coronavirus that may be developed into a drug to potentially prevent or treat COVID-19.
Amgen shares were up 1.5per cent in extended trading after earlier climbing as much as 2.4per cent
Amgen said strong first-quarter sales of Otezla, along with higher volume sales of drugs like cholesterol treatment Repatha, contributed to an 11per cent 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.
Several other newer medicines also had double-digit percentage sales increase in the period.
"As we expected, Amgen’s results were strong, but we did not get a guidance raise," Credit Suisse analyst Evan Seigerman said in a research note.
"We are encouraged with the progress and minimal disruption from COVID-19 across the business," he added.
The biotechnology company reported an adjusted profit of US$4.17 per share, up 17per cent from a year earlier and well above analysts' average expectations of US$3.76, according to Refinitiv IBES.
Amgen said the results were driven by revenue of US$6.16 billion and fewer shares outstanding. That topped Wall Street estimates for revenue of just under US$6 billion.
Net profit fell 3per cent to US$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 US$14.85 to US$15.60 per share on revenue of US$25 billion to US$25.6 billion.
(Reporting By Deena Beasley in Los Angeles and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)