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Amgen Focuses Research on Cardiovascular Disease

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Cardiovascular disease

To capitalize on the fast-growing cardiovascular disease market, Amgen (AMGN) has launched two innovative drugs Repatha, generic name evolocumab, and Corlanor, generic name ivabradine. The company has another novel compound, omecamtiv mecarbil, currently undergoing phase II trials. Similar to Corlanor, omecamtiv mecarbil targets patients with chronic heart failure.

The above graph shows how the drug omecamtiv mecarbil functions to control heart contractions in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. According to WebMd, “Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart’s pumping power is weaker than normal.”

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Omecamtiv mecarbil

In 2007, Amgen entered into a collaboration deal with California-based Cytokinetics to develop the latter’s experimental heart failure drug, CK-1827452, now termed omecamtiv mecarbil. This drug activates cardiac myosin, a protein present in the heart’s muscle cell. In combination with actin and other regulatory proteins, cardiac myosin is one of the key factors responsible for contractions of the heart. Omecamtiv mecarbil, a novel cardiac myosin activator, improves functioning of this protein, leading to better contractions and subsequent pumping action of the heart.

Amgen expects that the phase II clinical trial data of this drug will be available by the fourth quarter of 2015. The drug also has to further prove its efficacy and safety in phase III clinical trials. If approved, omecamtiv mecarbil will compete with existing drugs such as Pfizer’s (PFE) Altace, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Coreg, and Novartis’s (NVS) Diovan.

Investors can get diversified exposure to Amgen’s strong cardiovascular research pipeline, yet avoid unique company risks, by investing in the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (IBB). IBB maintains 8.53% of its total holdings in Amgen.

 

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