GLP-1s: ‘We’re investing behind this in a big way,’ says Amgen CFO

Amgen (AMGN) is among several big pharmaceutical players looking for a way into the newly profitable GLP-1 obesity drug market.

Chief financial officer Peter Griffith told Yahoo Finance the company is focused on creating an entire pipeline around what is estimated to be up to a $150 billion market.

“When we look at the market, we think there’s plenty of room. We’re investing behind this in a big way,” Griffith said, noting that Amgen is looking at multiple candidates to enter the pipeline.

In addition to its current clinical trial stage candidate, MariTide, the company is betting on a number of pre-clinical candidates as well. They vary by delivery method, number of times needed, and the potential to wean off of the drugs — rather than the current products, which have no end date once a patient begins using them.

Griffith has a clear idea about how the company needs to invest in the space, especially as it isn’t going to be first in the market.

“We see obesity as a very heterogenous disease, and so there’s going to be a large number of impacted individuals, a variety of approaches are going to be required,” Griffith said.

The company is also focusing on the additional benefits of GLP-1s, such as possible treatments for heart disease, liver disease, sleep apnea, and addiction, among others.

“We think its a great allocation of our shareholders’ capital, so we intend on being a very strong player. Obesity is a platform for Amgen; it’s not just MariTide. It’s a commitment overall,” Griffith said.

Volume up, prices down

But the company isn’t singularly focused on obesity. With the recently completed $28 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, which adds oncology products to Amgen’s pipeline, Amgen is also interested in ensuring a diverse pipeline for the future.

With a late-stage clinical pipeline running smoothly and strong growth in 2023 of its key market drivers, Amgen is eyeing annual revenue of $32.4 billion on the low end and up to $33.8 billion for 2024.

Amgen Inc. logo displayed on a smartphone with the stock market information of Amgen in the background. (Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

Its monoclonal antibody treatment for post-menopausal osteoporosis, Evenity, saw a 47% increase in sales last year compared to 2022. Lymphoblastic leukemia drug Blincyto also increased 47% in the same period.

But with the pharma industry in the crosshairs for pricing, Amgen is keeping a focus on increased volumes of its products.

“In 2018, this industry turned from price increases for 35 years or so to prices going down,” Griffith said.

On Amgen’s earnings call Tuesday, Griffith emphasized the focus on volume growth will help counter the decrease in prices in order to maintain a strong outlook.

“Consistent with industry trends, and our recent history, we expect mid-to-single-digit price decline for our portfolio in 2024,” Griffith told investors.

Anjalee Khemlani is the senior health reporter at Yahoo Finance, covering all things pharma, insurance, care services, digital health, PBMs, and health policy and politics. Follow Anjalee on all social media platforms @AnjKhem.

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