Bloomberg News

Amgen, J&J Anemia Drugs Won’t Face New U.S. Coverage Policy

June 16, 2011

(Adds CMS comment in third paragraph.)

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Amgen Inc. and Johnson & Johnson won’t face new reimbursement limits for their anemia medicines after U.S. regulators decided against issuing a national coverage policy.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed in March to maintain current standards for using Amgen’s Aranesp and Epogen and J&J’s Procrit, leaving coverage determination to regional Medicare contractors that process reimbursement claims. The agency made the proposal final today.

“Given the totality of the currently available evidence, CMS will not issue a national coverage determination at this time,” the agency said on its website.

The decision removes an “overhang” on shares of Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen, said Michael Yee, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, in a research note last week. Maintaining the coverage policy won’t affect revenue at the company, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, he said.

“There simply, and rationally, isn’t enough info at this time to change current treatment guidelines,” Yee, based in San Francisco, wrote in a June 9 note to clients.

J&J, the world’s second-biggest seller of health-care products after New York-based Pfizer Inc., is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

--Editors: Angela Zimm, Andrew Pollack

To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Larkin in Washington at clarkin4@bloomberg.net; Meg Tirrell in New York at mtirrell@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.


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