This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, December 17, 2001.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A biotech giant snatched up it's competition this morning. In a $16 billion deal, as I've been reporting, Amgen, a top drug maker, bought rival Immunex. Both stocks up sharply today. A sign of good things to come? And what does the market leader have in store for the medical community?
Well, we thought we'd go right to the top. Joining me now is the chairman and the CEO of Amgen, Kevin Sharer. Mr. Sharer, welcome, congratulations.
KEVIN SHARER, CHAIRMAN & CEO, AMGEN: Hi, Neil. Thanks a lot. Great to be here.
CAVUTO: Well, this was out there for a while and you finally did it.
SHARER: Yes, yes.
CAVUTO: The $16 billion figure, prior to the jump in the stock prices today, Wall Street was saying, "Uh-oh, you know, Kevin got in over his head."
SHARER: They've said that before. I think that the rumors of last week were in the face of lack of information from us. I think today, when we talked to analysts and we talked to investors, they got the idea. We have got a deal here that depends upon one drug performing, Enbrel. It's already a blockbuster. We're betting that by '05...
CAVUTO: This is the rheumatoid arthritis pill?
SHARER: The rheumatoid arthritis drug Immunex has. And I think we made some appropriate projections for Enbrel sales. We've got relatively small synergies assumed. It ought to be a created earnings and heavy ps-grow at about the mid-20s.
CAVUTO: All right. Now, you had predicted earlier today this could be a $3 billion drug.
SHARER: Yes, yes.
CAVUTO: Now, it's what, at $750 million right now.
SHARER: Yes, and...
CAVUTO: That's a huge leap.
SHARER: And supply is constrained though, Neil. I think one thing to recognize is that this is a huge unserved market. We focus principally on moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and there are well over one million patients that are treated now and need better treatments. So this is going to be an important drug for those patients. And when supply becomes unconstrained — right now our full manufacturing capacity is taken up — we think that the drug will really take off.
CAVUTO: Which was why Immunex looked at you as giving that distribution of...
SHARER: Well, I think looked at us because Enbrel is a great drug. It will give us therapeutic area leadership in rheumatoid arthritis. We have got manufacturing expertise and resources...
CAVUTO: But you've got your own (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You've got this Kineret that kind of does the same thing. What happens to that?
SHARER: Kineret is a drug that the FDA has labeled as for Enbrel failure, that is when Enbrel doesn't work, Kineret can be also be...
CAVUTO: So you can take the two?
SHARER: So they're complimentary. We see our sales force being able to sell them both.
CAVUTO: All right. Now, of course, one would look at Enbrel and seeing your combination, they're a one-trick pony, of course. People forget that you've got Epogen to treat anemia, Neupogen to reduce infection for chemotherapy patients, that sort of thing.
What else are you riding on?
SHARER: We're going to have four blockbuster drugs: Epogen, multi-billion drug, patent life in the United States — it goes out beyond 2015; Neupogen, blockbuster drug for chemotherapy support, patent life beyond 2010 in the U.S.; Aranesp, a drug we just launched this year for anemia worldwide. The world hopes that's in the 3 to $5 billion range, long patent life; and finally, Enbrel, a drug we are predicting at $3 billion. Others have said above that. Again, with patent life beyond 2015.
CAVUTO: So not a one-trick pony.
SHARER: No, not a one-trick pony.
CAVUTO: Of course, you have to worry about expense and whether the government is going to raid in on expenses or costs for drugs. Do you ever worry about that as putting a ceiling on what are you talking about?
SHARER: Yes. I think that...
CAVUTO: Especially if the House and Senate are Democrat?
SHARER: Yes, I think it's important that we pass a Medicare drug bill. And I think that will take some political pressure off the industry. But clearly there is a large debate in the United States about the costs of drugs. But drugs like Enbrel that have dramatic improvement in patient's lives, people get the value for it and it costs nearly a billion dollars — $800 million.
CAVUTO: Yes, but we've already seen in the Cipro case when national emergencies arise, Congress has no problem intervening and saying, cut the price, cut the price or we are going to cut you.
SHARER: I think that there is a debate in the United States about the cost of drugs. I don't think it's going to hit any one drug and I think what we need to do is keep bringing innovative drugs to market that really improve people's lives and are not made-to products. And I think we can get value for that because it makes that big a difference to people's lives.
CAVUTO: All right, Mr. Sharer, thank you very much. Kevin Sharer...
SHARER: Neil, it's nice to be with you.
CAVUTO: Same here, sir. Chairman and CEO of Amgen, a blockbuster deal today.
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