Amgen agreed to acquire its smaller biotech partner Abgenix for roughly $2.2 billion, Amgen announced yesterday.
The deal will give Amgen full ownership of an Abgenix-created pipeline product, the cancer drug panitumumab, currently in late-stage colon cancer testing.
Panitumumab could reach annual sales of $2 billion, assuming the drug proves successful in treating different cancer forms, Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer said in a Wall Street Journal report.
Both companies are expected this week to file an application for approval of panitumumab with the FDA. If approved, the drug will compete directly against Bristol-Myers Squibb and ImClone's Erbitux, a similar colon cancer drug.
Sharer also told The Wall Street Journal he believes panitumumab will "hold its own or better" against Erbitux, on the strength of data supporting its effectiveness.
The Abgenix deal marks the third major acquisition for Amgen in the past four years.
In 2002, it acquired Immunex Corp. for $ 11 billion and bought Tularik for $1.3 billion.