Thursday, March 08, 2007

Amgen Sucks Up to Tony

"So you see, if we create jobs, you keep reimbursing our drugs, ok?"

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at last had something to smile about at the opening of Amgen Inc.'s new R&D center in Uxbridge, west of London. The US biotech brings with it 300 new jobs, its biggest R&D investment outside of the US, and a nice boost for the UK's image as a country that fosters innovation and has, in Tony's words, a "first in class research base". (You can bet the Germans are looking on with envy, given Bayer's 3000-odd job cuts in Berlin, an unfortunate but not unexpected burp as it swallows up compatriot Schering.)

But Amgen will get plenty out of it, too. Cosying up to the government isn't a bad idea when your company's largest franchise by far (anemia, 50% of sales) is under threat from all sides, and when EU authorities are doing such an unusually fast job of ushering in cheaper biosimilars.

Having the PM's ear will help as European countries gradually implement the new regulatory pathway for follow-on biologics. It will also help as the UK government considers changes to the country's drug pricing scheme, up to now considered one of the most pharma-friendly in Europe.

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