Life Sciences

Amgen changes marketing practices for Aranesp

Pharma Compliance Alert, September 3, 2008

Amgen will no longer offer rebates to oncology clinics for their use of the erythropoiesis-stimulating agent Aranesp, according to a New York Times article.

Amgen will also stop offering a discount on Neulasta and Neupogen based on a physician’s purchase of Aranesp. However, Amgen will provide bigger discounts at the time of purchase to physicians who buy at least 50% of their anemia drugs from Amgen.

Critics claim the discounts, which are not unique in the industry, led to overuse of Aranesp, a charge Amgen denies, according to the Times.

Congress has also been investigating Amgen’s pricing practices. In March, Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) sent a letter to Amgen to find out whether Amgen discounted its price on Neupogen and Neulasta for physicians who prescribed Aranesp. The lawmakers are concerned “such ‘bundling’ practices have helped fuel excessive and dangerous off-label use of Aranesp.” 

In April, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who began investigating Amgen’s rebate practices in 2006, asked the company to explain its drug rebate and discount calculations and why some physician groups received large rebates for purchasing Aranesp

In July, Amgen entered into a $200 million settlement with Ortho Biotech to end a two and a half year antitrust lawsuit over Amgen’s pricing practices.

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