Amgen Inc. has received a patent for its drug to treat anemia in patients undergoing kidney dialysis. However, a Cambridge, Mass., company has announced plans to go forward with the development of a competing product.
Amgen's patent for the drug, marketed under the name Epogen, provides protection against the unauthorized making, importation, use or sale of recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) in the United States.
The Thousand Oaks biotechnology company said it already has patents covering DNA and host cells and the manufacturing process for recombinant EPO.
However, Transkaryotic Therapies Inc. said it will sell shares in an initial public offering and expects to begin human tests of its erythropoietin product in the first half of next year.
If successful, analysts said the product could compete with Epogen, which is used to spur red blood cell growth in kidney disease patients and is expected to have sales of about $1 billion this year.
Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Matt Geller said Transkaryotic believes it can avoid Amgen's patents on Epogen since it claims to have a natural way of making the compound.
Epogen is used to treat anemia associated with chronic renal failure in people on kidney dialysis. The drug is a form of the protein that tells the bone marrow to make the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body's other cells. Lack of red blood cells causes anemia and fatigue in dialysis patients.
Transkaryotic's erythropoietin may be far from reaching the market, since it has yet to begin human tests and is likely to face lawsuits from Amgen, said Bear Stearns analyst David Molowa.