Amgen’s third-quarter earnings have rocketed, helped by a return to growth for its flagship anaemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen.

Net income reached $1.16 billion, up from $210 million in the like,year-earlier period, though the latter was impacted by $590 million in write-offs from acquired in-process R&D. Revenues were up 7.3% to $3.88 billion.

Sales of Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) were up 3% to $825 million and most interestingly turnover in the USA of the erythropoiesis stimulating agent was unchanged at $458 million, suggesting that the regulatory and reimbursement problems the firm has faced there have reduced. Sales of the older ESA, Epogen (epoetin alfa) were up 5% at $634 million.

Combined worldwide turnover of Amgen’s white blood cell stimulators Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) and Neupogen (filgrastim) climbed 8% to $1.19 billion. North American sales of the anti-inflammatory Enbrel (etanercept) were up 9% to $893 million, while global revenues for Sensipar (cinacalcet), for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients, leapt 32% to $161 million. Sales of the anticancer antibody Vectibix (panitumumab) were flat at $41 million.

The results led to Amgen upping its 2008 adjusted earnings projection to $4.45-$4.55 per share from a guidance in July of $ 4.25-$4.45, well ahead of analyst forecasts of $4.38 a share. Full-year revenues are now expected to reach $14.9-$15.2 billion, up from previous guidance of $14.6-$14.9 billion.

Chief executive Kevin Sharer said that the firm is now focused on plans to commercialise the investigational compound denosumab in post-menopausal osteoporosis. “We're excited about the opportunity to bring this novel treatment option to patients with this serious disease," he added.