Company news: Amgen and Takeda

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Amgen is buying KAI Pharma, a South San Francisco-based, privately held company working on a novel treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism, or SHPT, in patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis. The $315 million cash acquisition gives Amgen global rights to the drug, for which the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based biotech also issued a loan to fund Phase 3 clinical development planning prior to closing.

Takeda is acquiring URL Pharma, a $600 million Philadelphia firm whose top product, gout flare treatment Colcrys, complements Takeda's Uloric. The drug had more than $430 million in sales last year. Takeda is shelling out an upfront payment of $800 million for the firm, with future performance-based contingent earn-out payments on the table. “This acquisition expands Takeda's gout treatment portfolio and leverages our expertise in primary care,” said Douglas Cole, president of Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA.

A study published in the April 9 Archives of Internal Medicine is questioning the value of studies that indicated Omega 3 supplements could be a way to ensure heart health after a patient has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Their conclusion: doctors cannot recommend fish oil supplements to ward off cardiovascular disease. Previous studies indicated that supplements may help patients who have already been diagnosed with the condition that includes heart attack and stroke, but the authors say the results haven't been consistently replicated, and that the patient groups are often too small to be of value. The authors recommend patients consume fatty fish, which are sources of Omega 3s, or plant-based sources, such as flaxseeds and walnuts, until better information rolls in. The fish oil business can be a profitable one. GlaxoSmithKline, which noted that the label for its Omega 3 prescription drug, Lovaza, does not claim to prevent heart attacks and strokes, but it did bring in $9 million for the company in US sales last year. It is made of Omega-3 oils from fish including salmon and mackerel and is intended to treat patients with high triglyceride levels. GSK lists Tricor as its closest equivalent in its annual report. Abbott sold $1.3 billion worth of Tricor (fenofibrate) in 2011.
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