Amgen has reported higher-than expected first-quarter earnings, boosted by cost-cutting measures which softened the blow of declining sales of its flagship anaemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen.

Net income was up 2% to $1.14 billion, while revenues were down 2% at $3.61 billion, despite a 10% jump in international sales. Turnover was dragged down by Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) which dropped 25% to $761 million as turnover in the USA plummeted 38% to $405 million, on lower market demand caused by regulatory and reimbursement changes. A similar scenario meant that sales of Epogen (epoetin alfa) decreased 11% to $554 million.

On the positive side, combined worldwide turnover of its white blood cell stimulators Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) and Neupogen (filgrastim) climbed 7% to $1.09 billion, North American sales of the anti-inflammatory Enbrel (etanercept) rose 30% to $951 million, and global revenues for Sensipar (cinacalcet), for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients, leapt 27% to $133 million. However sales of its anticancer antibody Vectibix (panitumumab) fell to $34 million compared with $51 million in the like, year-earlier period.

Chief executive Kevin Sharer said that although “first-quarter product sales were mixed, based on current trends and expectations, we are confident that revenues for the year will be within our previously announced guidance" of $14.2-$14.6 billion. He added that Amgen is “ encouraged by the lasting effects of our cost management efforts,” which saw R&D spending down 18% to $661 million. Capital expenditure fell to $170 million from $325 million a year ago.

Analysts at Robert W Baird issued a note saying that the results were saved by R&D savings, higher-than-expected Enbrel revenues and a number of onetime and currency benefits. However, they added that “when considering only demand-driven revenues, Amgen’s 1Q results constitute a substantial expectations miss”.