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Amgen's Repatha Reduces Bad Cholestrol in Type II Diabetes

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Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) announced new data from the phase III study — BANTING — which showed that its PCSK9 inhibitor, Repatha, significantly reduced bad cholesterol in patients with type II diabetes and hypercholesterolemia already receiving moderate/high-intensity statin therapy. The data was presented at Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association over the weekend.

According to the data from the BANTING study, the addition of Repatha to background statin therapy significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C). Notably, LDL-C was reduced by 53.1% at week 12 from baseline in the patient population.

So far this year, Amgen’s shares have gained 6.5%, comparing favorably with the industry’s 5.7% decrease.

The BANTING study evaluated monthly subcutaneous administration of a 420 mg dose of Repatha over a period of 12-weeks in patients with type II diabetes and hypercholesterolemia or mixed dyslipidemia who are on optimized background statin therapy.

The encouraging data from the study shows that patients with type II diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, who are already treated with a maximum tolerable dose of statin therapy, can further reduce LDL-C and non-HDL-C by adding Repatha.

Data from the BANTING study also revealed that 84.5% of patients in the Repatha arm achieved LDL-C levels of less than 70 mg/dL, which is the recommended level by American College of Clinical Endocrinologists for patients with type II diabetes, compared with 15.4% of patients in placebo arm at week 12. The addition of Repatha too reduced various lipid parameters, including non-HDL-C by 47% compared with 1% for placebo.

High non-HDL-C levels can cause cardiovascular events in type II diabetes patients, which in combination with LDL-C increases the risk further.

We remind investors that Repatha’s label was expanded in Europe last month to include prevention of heart attack and stroke in adults with established cardiovascular disease. The encouraging data from BANTING study further brightens the prospect of the drug in reducing cardiovascular events in presumably larger patient population.

Another PCSK9 inhibitor available in the market is Sanofi (SNY - Free Report) , and partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s (REGN - Free Report) Praluent. Currently, both the drugs have recorded lower-than-expected sales due to higher pricing and re-imbursement issues/payer restrictions.

Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

Amgen currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the pharma sector is Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. (AGLE - Free Report) carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Aeglea’s loss estimates narrowed from $1.93 to $1.67 for 2018 and from $3.86 to $3.57 for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 19.32%. Its share price has increased 93.7% so far this year.

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