Speaking with Bloomberg TV from Amgen's newest manufacturing facility in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, Amgen CEO Bob Bradway said the plant has set a new standard for efficiency and environmental sustainability and will enable Amgen to meet growing demand for its medicines, many of which treat serious and widespread chronic diseases. He warned, though, that recent U.S. drug price control legislation threatens to discourage biopharmaceutical innovation just when it is most needed. Bradway spoke on September 14 with "Bloomberg: Market Close" co-anchors Caroline Hyde and Taylor Riggs.
Bradway remarked that the new Rhode Island facility expands Amgen's ability to manufacture protein-based medicines "at an improved cost and improved efficiency in a shorter timeframe than any other facility in the world." He emphasized the plant's environmental sustainability, noting that "we have been able to shrink the footprint by some 75 percent and dramatically decrease the amount of energy and water we consume and the amount of waste we produce."
The Rhode Island facility, together with two other state-of-the-art manufacturing plants currently under construction in Ohio and North Carolina, represents a $1 billion investment that will permit Amgen to meet growing demand for our medicines aimed at serious and prevalent conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. "We have been very focused on investing in the science and technology of biomanufacturing, which is enabling us to produce medicines more effectively and reliably," Bradway commented. "As the demand for what we are doing continues to increase, we need to be able to keep pace and be in a position to supply every patient every time—something we are proud to have done throughout our 42-year history."
While COVID has understandably dominated attention over the past three years, Bradway observed that chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis have not gone away—in fact, their prevalence has increased as many people at risk of these conditions did not obtain timely diagnosis or treatment due to COVID. "Now those people are showing up with their diseases at a more advanced state," which makes it harder to treat them successfully. Thankfully, Bob added, we have the means to predict who is at highest risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and to prevent many such people from falling ill. "The earlier we can start treatment for these conditions," he concluded, "the better we are able to prevent the downstream consequences."
Amgen stands ready to provide the innovation needed to help patients manage these chronic conditions, thanks to its broad portfolio of marketed medicines and its robust pipeline of potential new treatments. Bradway emphasized that Amgen's innovation comes in roughly equal parts from its own laboratories and from external alliances and acquisitions. Recent home-grown innovations include LUMAKRAS® and TEZSPIRE®. The company also scans the external landscape for "therapies that are innovative, first-in-class medicines making a big difference for patients where the unmet medical need is high." Amgen's recently announced acquisition of ChemoCentryx, for instance, brings with it TAVNEOS®, which Bob noted is a first-in-class innovation for a serious autoimmune disease.
Unfortunately, the new U.S. Inflation Reduction Act—which would impose government price controls on certain medicines provided through Medicare under the guise of price "negotiation"—is likely to stymie biopharmaceutical innovation at precisely the time when the world needs more new medicines. Bradway characterized the new law as "a missed opportunity to address the real challenge for patients in [the U.S.], which is the out-of-pocket costs of medicine." He pledged that Amgen would adapt to the more difficult conditions created by the law, and that the company's decades of experience, its global scale, and its manufacturing prowess will enable it "to capitalize on innovation and serve the needs of patients."
Click here to view a replay of Bob Bradway's interview with Bloomberg TV.