The world’s largest biotechnology company, Amgen, is seeking a new label for its billion dollar anti-anaemia treatment, Aranesp (darbopoetin alfa), that will see it become the first drug of its kind to be administered once every three weeks to patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia.

Said Willard Dere, chief medical officer and senior vice president of global development at Amgen: “Since chemotherapy is most commonly given to patients every three weeks, an extended dosing schedule for Aranesp has the potential to reduce the amount of patient, physician and caregiver time required for anaemia therapy.”

The news further boosts Aranesp’s market potential. This year alone, an estimated 1.3 million people in the USA will receive chemotherapy – and approximately 67% of these will become anaemic.

Aranesp was first cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in September 2001 for the treatment of anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease [[19/09/01a]]. A second approval, in chemotherapy-induced anaemia, was awarded the following year and it has already proved itself to be a highly valuable drug for Amgen [[23/07/02e]]. For the first quarter of 2005 alone, sales jumped 33% to $723 million dollars [[22/04/05c]].