Sales of Amgen’s closely watched lung cancer drug Lumakras missed expectations in the third quarter, adding to doubts about its revenue potential.
Sales of the drug fell by 3% to $75 million from the previous quarter, or $14 million below analysts’ consensus estimates of $89 million. The results were driven mainly by a lower price adjustment in Germany that more than offset a 15% increase in prescriptions, the company said in its third-quarter earnings report Thursday.
Amgen has spent heavily to develop the lung cancer drug, and nabbed a landmark approval in 2021 when Lumakras became the first marketed medicine to successfully target the cancer gene KRAS. But Lumakras was approved based on its ability to shrink tumors and hold them in check. It hasn’t yet proven whether it helps patients live longer, which could affect how doctors perceive the medicine.
So far, the drug has been launched in 30 markets and is expanding further into the over 45 markets it is approved in, Amgen commercial chief Murdo Gordon said on a call with analysts Friday. Its future growth prospects will be tied to its ability to move into earlier treatment lines and in additional tumor types, he said. Lumakras is only cleared for use in second-line lung cancer.
Still, some analysts are skeptical of the drug’s sales prospects. “[W]e think the data, so far, does not provide much more than hope,” Baird analyst Brian Skorney wrote in a note to clients Friday. “The commercial potential of the franchise is rapidly declining.”
Instead, analysts’ attention on the earnings call was focused on other drugs that could cover for Lumakras.
One of those medicines is Tezspire, a drug that treats severe asthma and had $55 million in sales in the quarter, beating analysts’ estimates. Sales are tracking close to AstraZeneca’s rival asthma drug Fasenra, which is generating $1.2 billion annually, Skorney said. “We think this franchise has potential to make up for the abysmal Lumakras launch to some extent,” he added.
Amgen’s experimental weight loss treatment known as AMG 133 is further behind Novo Nordisk's obesity drug Wegovy and Eli Lilly's diabetes therapy Mounjaro, the latter of which is seeing strong initial sales. Amgen plans to start a Phase 2 trial in the “relative near term,” said research and development head David Reese on the call. But Amgen is optimistic that its drug can stand out.
“There are many potential avenues to differentiation here,” Reese said, such as the “degree of weight loss,” durability and tolerability of Amgen’s treatment.
Amgen is also set to launch a biosimilar version of the anti-inflammatory drug Humira in the U.S. next year, though some analysts expressed concern that the treatment could negatively impact sales of its blockbuster arthritis drug Enbrel.
Amgen’s overall revenue fell by 1% to about $6.7 billion in the latest quarter. The company tightened its expected 2022 revenue totals to between $26 billion to $26.3 billion, at the high end of the previous range of $25.5 billion to $26.4 billion.