Amgen Selling Cancer Drug to Make Way for Merger

The company seeks to sell Leukine, marketed by Immunex, because it works similarly to Neupogen.
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Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

is seeking a buyer for the cancer drug Leukine as part of its $16 billion merger with

Immunex

(IMNX)

.

When the merger was announced in December, Amgen executives said a sale of Leukine, which is marketed by Immunex, was likely in order to gain approval of the deal from the Federal Trade Commission. The decision to seek a buyer for Leukine was announced to employees of both companies on Thursday. The email was included in a filing to the

Securities and Exchange Commission

.

Leukine works in much the same way as Amgen's drug Neupogen, and this was likely to raise antitrust concerns with FTC officials unless it was sold off.

Leukine sales totaled $108.4 million in 2001, up 23% from 2000.

Amgen and Immunex are expected to close their merger in the second half of the year. Amgen shares were up 28 cents, to $55.32, in Thursday trading; Immunex shares were up 19 cents to $27.87.