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Amgen to end rebates for top anemia drug Aranesp

August 29, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Amgen Inc. said it would stop offering rebates to cancer clinics prescribing its anemia drug Aranesp to avoid what it called the "possible misperception" that the payments encouraged overuse.

The Thousand Oaks-based company also will change pricing for two other cancer drugs, Neulasta and Neupogen, by stopping discounts based on doctors' purchases of Aranesp and selling each product separately, Amgen said in a statement Thursday.

Instead of rebates, Amgen will offer discounts at the time of purchase.

Members of Congress have criticized Amgen, saying its rebates encouraged clinics to prescribe the three drugs unnecessarily. Amgen paid almost $800 million in Aranesp rebates to 6,000 facilities in 2006, according to an April report by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The clinics were reimbursed by insurance companies for the full price of the medicines and were allowed to keep the rebates, Grassley said.

Aranesp generated $3.61 billion in 2007, a quarter of Amgen's revenue.

The changes will begin Oct. 1. Amgen said it had found no evidence its products were being overused. Rebates and discounts are common with cancer drugs, Amgen said.

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