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Apr 21, 4:40 PM EDT

Amgen tops estimates with 51 percent spike in 1Q profit



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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Amgen Inc. boosted first-quarter profit by 51 percent, thanks to surging sales of its top prescription drugs and ongoing cost cuts designed to free up cash to mount an unprecedented spurt of new product launches.

The huge biologic drugmaker on Tuesday edged out Wall Street forecasts and boosted its profit forecast for 2015 a bit.

Among the key changes under the restructuring program the Thousand Oaks, California, company announced 1 1/2 years ago, it's been reducing its research and development operations temporarily and also cutting some administrative and other positions.

Meanwhile, Amgen has assembled a new sales group to market its first cardiovascular drug, just-approved chronic heart failure treatment Corlanor, and build relationships with cardiologists ahead of likely approval of a much more lucrative heart drug. Repatha, expected to be approved in the second half of the year, is part of a new class of pricey cholesterol drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors aimed at patients not helped enough by older, mostly generic statin drugs such as Lipitor.

Amgen reported net income of $1.62 billion, or $2.11 per share, up from $1.07 billion, or $1.40 per share, in 2014's first quarter.

Adjusted net income, after excluding costs for layoffs and other restructuring and integrating drugmaker Onyx, came to $1.91 billion, or $2.48 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting $2.10.

Revenue totaled $5.03 billion, up 11 percent from a year ago. Analysts expected $4.92 billion.

Sales were led by a flat $1.38 billion from Neulasta and Neupogen, for preventing infections in patients getting chemotherapy; rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, up 13 percent to $1.12 billion; long-acting osteoporosis injection Prolia, up 39 percent to $272 million, and a 16 percent jump to $534 million for Epogen, for treating anemia and eliminating the need for transfusions in kidney dialysis patients.

"With solid execution in the first quarter, Amgen achieved strong sales and earnings growth and demonstrated substantial progress in achieving our long-term objectives," CEO Robert A. Bradway said in a statement.

Amgen is one of the world's top makers of biologic drugs, which are produced in living cells, rather than by mixing chemicals, as with traditional pills.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson at https://twitter.com/lindaj-onpharma

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