THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 2, 2005--Amgen (Nasdaq:AMGN), the world's largest biotechnology company, today announced its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, an approximately 700-mile cycling event featuring world-class professional teams battling it out in some of the most picturesque locales in the state from February 19 - 26, 2006.
"For 25 years, Amgen has tapped the power of pioneering science and innovation to fight serious illness and improve people's lives," said Kevin Sharer, Amgen's chairman and chief executive officer. "We're associating our name with this premier cycling event to underscore the value of a healthy lifestyle, promote medical breakthroughs made possible through biotechnology and to emphasize the proper use of our medicines."
Amgen also announced today a Breakaway from Cancer(TM) initiative -- a complementary component to the race sponsorship. Through the Breakaway from Cancer effort, Amgen will partner with The Wellness Community(R) and Discovery Channel(R) professional cycling team member and 10-time Tour de France veteran George Hincapie to raise awareness and funds to support valuable services and programs that help cancer patients and caregivers.
Amgen discovers and develops innovative and vital medicines that have helped millions of patients fight cancer, kidney disease and other serious illnesses. Two of these medicines - EPOGEN(R) (Epoetin alfa) and Aranesp(R) (darbepoetin alfa) - have been used in violation of certain worldwide and national athletic association regulations by some athletes in an attempt to enhance their performance. Amgen has and continues to collaborate closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency and other international groups to help develop effective tests to detect this improper use.
"We worked long and hard to develop these medicines to help patients fighting serious illness," said Amgen scientific director Steve Elliott. Elliott is the inventor of Aranesp and has worked closely with the IOC to develop tests to detect improper use of Amgen's medicines. "Doping is dangerous and unhealthy. This sponsorship provides us with an opportunity to combat the inappropriate use of our vital medicines and to educate athletes, both amateurs and professionals, of the potential dangers of misusing drugs of any kind."
EPOGEN, one of the first biologic human therapeutics, is approved for the treatment of anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis. Aranesp is approved for the treatment of anemia associated with chronic kidney disease and chemotherapy.
SUPPORTING CANCER PATIENTS AND CAREGIVERS
Through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, Amgen, The Wellness Community and Hincapie will raise nationwide awareness of The Wellness Community's free education and support services, provide support workshops to cancer patients and caregivers, and offer ways for the public to support The Wellness Community facilities throughout the country.
"Like so many families, mine has experienced the incredible and painful challenges of rallying around a loved one fighting cancer," said Hincapie, who recently lost a family member to cancer. "And just as in cycling where it takes a great support team to help an individual breakaway from the pack, it takes a strong support network to help a cancer patient face the many hurdles throughout treatment. I'm proud to partner with Amgen and The Wellness Community on the Breakaway from Cancer effort."
The Wellness Community is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing support, education and hope for all people affected by cancer with 21 Wellness Communities around the United States, including six centers serving Californians in the Los Angeles and the San Francisco areas.
"There are 10 million cancer survivors in the United States today and more than one million Americans will be diagnosed this year. We're pleased to be a part of this new education and awareness program designed to help patients and caregivers learn to live well with a cancer diagnosis by empowering them with education and hope," said Kim Thiboldeaux, president and CEO of The Wellness Community. "We're particularly excited about continuing our partnership with Amgen via the Breakaway from Cancer initiative."
Thiboldeaux said the Frankly Speaking About Cancer workshops, the core educational component of the Breakaway from Cancer program, will focus on helping cancer patients take control of side effects through medicine, mind and body. More details about the Breakaway from Cancer campaign will be announced in the weeks ahead including dates for the initial patient support workshops.
For more information on the Amgen Tour of California, the Breakaway from Cancer campaign and The Wellness Community visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com
About Aranesp(R) (darbepoetin alfa)
Aranesp is a recombinant erythropoietic protein (a protein that stimulates production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells). Amgen revolutionized anemia treatment with the development of a recombinant erythropoietin, epoetin alfa, which is currently marketed in the U.S. by Amgen as EPOGEN(R) (Epoetin alfa)(1) and by Ortho Biotech Products, LP, as Procrit(R) (Epoetin alfa)(2). Building on this heritage, Amgen developed Aranesp, which contains two additional sialic acid-containing carbohydrate chains than the Epoetin alfa molecule, resulting in more activity, with the added benefit of less-frequent administration.
Aranesp was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2001 for the treatment of anemia associated with chronic renal failure, also known as CKD, for patients on dialysis and patients not on dialysis. In July 2002, Aranesp was approved by the FDA for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anemia in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies.
Aranesp is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled hypertension and patients with known hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients. Erythropoietic therapies may increase the risk of thrombotic and other serious events; dose reductions are recommended if the hemoglobin increase exceeds 1.0 g/dL in any two-week period. Pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) has been observed in patients treated with recombinant erythropoietins. Aranesp should be discontinued in any patient with evidence of PRCA and the patient evaluated for the presence of antibodies to erythropoietic products. The most commonly reported side effects in Aranesp trials were fatigue, edema, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and dyspnea. Aranesp dosage should be adjusted for each patient to achieve and maintain a target hemoglobin not to exceed 12 g/dL. Doses must be individualized to ensure that hemoglobin is maintained at an appropriate level for each patient.
About EPOGEN(R) (Epoetin alfa)
EPOGEN (Epoetin alfa) is indicated for the treatment of anemia in patients with chronic renal failure on dialysis. EPOGEN is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Erythropoietic therapies may increase the risk of seizures, thrombotic and other serious events. The target hemoglobin should not exceed 12 g/dL. If the hemoglobin increase exceeds 1.0 g/dL in any 2-week period, dose reductions are recommended. In a study with hemodialysis patients with clinically evident cardiac disease, where the target Hct was 43 percent (hb=14 g/dL), an increased incidence of thrombotic events and mortality was seen. The reason for increased mortality observed in this study is unknown.
PRCA has been reported in a limited number of patients exposed to EPOGEN. EPOGEN should be discontinued in any patient with evidence of PRCA and the patient evaluated for the presence of antibodies to erythropoietin products. The most commonly reported side effects in clinical trials were hypertension, headache, arthralgias, and nausea.
Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
About The Wellness Community and Group Loop
Celebrating its 23rd anniversary in June 2005, The Wellness Community (TWC) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support and education as well as hope to people affected by cancer. Through participation in professionally led support groups, educational workshops, nutrition and exercise programs, and mind/body classes, people affected by cancer learn vital skills that enable them to regain control, reduce isolation and restore hope regardless of the stage of their disease. Today, there are 21 Wellness Communities across the United States, five in development, 28 satellites, two centers abroad in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, and a community online at The Virtual Wellness Community. TWC also provides online resources for teens with cancer and their parents at Group Loop. For more information, visit www.thewellnesscommunity.org
EDITOR'S NOTE: An electronic version of this news release may be accessed via our Web site at www.amgen.com. Journalists and media representatives may sign up to receive all news releases electronically at time of announcement by filling out a short form in the Media section of the Web site.
(1)EPOGEN(R) is a registered trademark of Amgen, Inc.
(2)PROCRIT(R) is a registered trademark of Ortho Biotech Products, L.P.
CONTACT: Amgen, Thousand Oaks Mary Klem, 805-447-4587 (media) Arvind Sood, 805-447-1060 (investors) or The Wellness Community, Washington, D.C. Michelle Pollak, 202-255-8563 (media) SOURCE: Amgen