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/ BARBARA MURPHY

Amgen Begins Human Trials on Drug to Treat Bone Disorders

September 22, 1998|BARBARA MURPHY

Amgen has begun human safety trials of a compound that may be used to treat bone disorders such as osteoporosis and cancer-related bone metastasis, the company announced.

The Thousand Oaks-based company also said it has ended development of another cancer drug.

Amgen said it will test the naturally occurring protein osteoprotegerin on healthy post-menopausal women to determine whether it is safe and well tolerated. The company believes the protein plays an important role in regulating bone mass.

Should it pass that trial, officials said, the company will consider further tests to determine whether the compound could be used to treat diseases such as the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis and the spreading of cancer to the bones.

Last month, Amgen discontinued testing of megakaryocyte growth development factor, or MGDF. The drug was being tested as a treatment for low platelet count in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It was in the last of the three stages of testing required before seeking Food and Drug Administration approval.

"While the intent was to treat low platelet count, it actually caused it in some patients," said Amgen spokeswoman Andrea Rothschild. "We decided the risk-benefit ratio was not in favor of continuing to develop MGDF."

Amgen makes the world's top-selling biotech drugs Epogen and Neupogen, which each had 1997 sales of about $1 billion.

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