Amgen Looking to Improve Focus and “Re-allocate Resources” for R&D, Say More Oct. 24

10/12/11Follow @xconomy

Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, just sent a signal to its staff that cuts could be coming soon to its R&D operations.

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) is based in Thousand Oaks, CA, and has R&D operations in Seattle, South San Francisco, and Cambridge, MA. News of potential cuts to Amgen’s R&D operations were reported earlier today by the Ventura County Star. Amgen isn’t yet saying specifically what it plans to do, but company spokeswoman Mary Klem confirmed that something’s up:

“As we discussed with our R&D staff today we are currently evaluating some changes within our Research & Development organization to improve focus and to re-allocate resources to key pipeline assets and activities.

“We will provide additional details on the Q3 earnings call on October 24.”

Klem didn’t provide any further comment on how the re-allocation of resources may affect individual Amgen sites in Seattle, San Francisco, or Boston. I’m checking with sources to see if I can get any more details.

Amgen generated about $15.1 billion in revenue last year, and spent what’s generally considered a healthy 19 percent proportion of that revenue ($2.9 billion) on R&D. The company is also actively pushing the biggest new innovations from its internal pipeline in years—denosumab, which is being marketed for osteoporosis patients as Prolia, and for cancer-related bone loss under the name Xgeva. The company has had as many as 20,000 employees in the past, but its latest worldwide headcount is down to about 17,000, according to a company fact sheet.

The company, under R&D chief Roger Perlmutter, has been making a decade-long push in cancer drug development, and it also has been seeking to seize some of the momentum in bone disorders through a “son of denosumab” program that I profiled earlier this year. I’ll be watching to see which programs stay, which get jettisoned, and how many people are affected in the end.

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