Beating the expectations of analysts, Amgen Inc., the country's largest independent biotechnology company, reported earnings of 82 cents per share for the second quarter, up 14% from the same period a year ago.
Company officials attributed the increase to improved sales of the firm's best-selling product, Epogen, a medication used by dialysis patients to boost their red blood cell counts and ward off anemia.
Sales rebounded after federal authorities eased restrictions imposed last year on the level of Epogen use covered by Medicare. The Health Care Financing Administration, which sets policy for the Medicare system, reversed itself this year in response to complaints from doctor and patient groups. The new rules essentially leave it up to physicians to determine what level of red blood cells a patient requires and how long to keep the patient on the drug to achieve that.
The latest change allowed Epogen to "resume its more normal growth," Chairman and CEO Gordon Binder said. While federal officials are now refining the reimbursement rules, the company believes the changes will not have a significant impact.