Amgen's ( AMGN) anemia-drug franchise was dealt more foreboding news Thursday when the Food and Drug Administration stiffened its safety warning to health care professionals to include flag-raising mortality rates in recent studies. The agency cautioned that the so-called Prepare breast cancer study as well as a study in cervical cancer by the National Cancer Institute Gynecologic Oncology Group showed greater death rates and tumor progression in patients who received erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), such as Amgen's former blockbuster drugs Epogen and Aranesp and Johnson & Johnson's ( JNJ) Procrit, which are used for chemotherapy-induced anemia and anemia associated with chronic renal failure. "This new information further underscores the safety concerns regarding the use of ESAs in patients with cancer addressed in previous communications," the agency noted. Amgen's stock hit a new 52-week low on Thursday, dipping down to $45.25 and closing at $45.69. It has traded as high as $76.95 in the last year but has taken a beating with the decline of its anemia-drug franchise. On Wednesday, Lazard analyst Joel Sendek upgraded the stock to hold from sell, noting that he believed the stock was fairly valued as it had sank to his $46 price target. "...We now believe the risks to the ESA franchise and competitive threats to Enbrel, denosumab, and the NEUPO franchises are priced in," he wrote in a research note.
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).