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Amgen's President Adds CEO to His Job Duties

May 23, 2000|BARBARA MURPHY

Amgen President Kevin W. Sharer has added the title of chief executive at the nation's largest biotechnology company, replacing Gordon M. Binder, who is retiring.

Binder, 64, will continue as chairman of the board and company director until Dec. 31, when Sharer will also take on those duties.

The transition, which was announced last year, comes as Thousand Oaks-based Amgen is preparing to release several new drugs to the market. They include NESP, designed to stimulate red blood cell production in dialysis patients.

Sharer, 52, is the third chief executive in the company's 20-year history.

"We will remain a patient-focused enterprise whose mission is to dramatically improve people's lives through innovative science," Sharer said in a news release.

The company reported $3 billion in sales and $1 billion in net income during 1999, largely on the strength of its mainstay products, Epogen and Neupogen.

The long-planned changeover, which was made effective during the company's annual shareholders meeting, was not expected to have a major effect on Amgen's plans, one analyst said.

Amgen's earnings growth was stunted during the last year because of the cost of gearing up for the launch of NESP and other new products, said Jim McCamant, editor of the Medical Technology Stock Letter.

Amgen is seeking regulatory approval to market NESP. The drug would replace Epogen, a huge moneymaker for Amgen, in U.S. markets. It also would give Amgen the opportunity to pick up new patients in Europe, where Johnson & Johnson holds distribution rights for Epogen.

Johnson & Johnson is preparing another version of Epogen designed to compete with NESP, McCamant said.

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