While the biotechnology industry remains gloomy over the prospect of health care reform, Thousand Oaks-based Amgen Inc. on Wednesday offered investors a ray of optimism, saying it expects to add 1,000 jobs during the next year.
The statement on new hiring came from Amgen Chairman Gordon Binder at a conference sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Assn. in Washington. The news was well received by Wall Street: Amgen's shares rose $1.50 to close at $38.50 on the NASDAQ market.
Amgen is a bellwether for biotechnology stocks, which have taken a beating this year in response to disappointing clinical results for several promising new drugs, as well as concerns that the Clinton Administration will propose drug price controls as part of its health care reform package.
Although a draft proposal of Clinton's plan includes no mandatory controls, it would create a government review board to evaluate prices of new "breakthrough" drugs and require steep discounts for drugs used by Medicare patients. Biotechnology executives say those proposals--which the industry will push hard to have stricken from the final plan to be announced Wednesday--are tantamount to price controls.