Amgen Acquires KAI Pharmaceuticals

Amgen Inc. recently completed its acquisition of KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million. Initially agreed to on April 10, Amgen said the move was spurred by the “compelling” phase 2A trial results of KAI-4169, KAI’s compound to treat hyperthyroidism. The deal calls for Amgen to make a loan to KAI so it can plan late-stage trials of the drug.

KAI-4169 drew attention at ASN Kidney Week in Philadelphia last November when it was reported that the drug had reduced parathyroid hormone by 33 percent in patients taking a 5-mg dose and by 49 percent in those taking a 10-mg dose. It is an experimental intravenous treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis. The parathyroid glands release a hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in blood. When the glands fail to function properly the amounts of calcium and phosphorous may rise to dangerously high levels. Amgen said patients with kidney disease often develop parathyroidism; this condition can worsen as kidney function declines, Bloomberg Businessweek noted in coverage of the acquistion.

Based in Thousand Oaks, CA, Amgen had total product sales in 2011 of $15.3 billion and research and development expenses totaling $3.2 billion. In March, Omontys (peginesatide, manufactured by Affymax) was approved for increasing red-blood-cell counts in patients on dialysis, the same therapeutic area of Amgen’s biggest kidney-related drugs. The New York Times reported at the time that Amgen had garnered $40 billion in revenues for its family of drugs over the past 23 years. Amgen recently reported it is expanding its portfolio of drugs for patients with kidney disease and those with many other conditions.

Until recently, the South San Francisco, CA–based KAI Pharmaceuticals was a drug discovery and development company with multiple, novel clinical-stage programs in the areas of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and pain management, according to the technology listing directory website Crunchbase.

BioWorld reported that KAI-4169 has the same mechanism as Amgen’s oral calcimimetic, parathyroid-hormone-lowering drug Sensipar (cinacalcet), but with patent protection extending into the late 2020s. KAI-4169 is able to lower the hormone to the same extent as Sensipar, but “KAI-4169 does not have the adverse gastrointestinal events seen in 20 percent to 30 percent of patients taking Sensipar,” BioWorld noted.

September 2012 (Vol. 4, Number 9)