Amgen (often stylized as AMGen) is an American biopharmaceutical company and the world's largest independent biotech firm. Amgen, which was formerly Applied Molecular Genetics Inc., is known for creating a cancer drug out of a genetically modified virus that treats recurring melanoma without inflicting patients with nasty side effects normally associated with traditional chemotherapy and radiation. The drug employs Imlygic--a modified version of the herpes simplex virus type 1 designed to replicate within tumors and produce a protein that causes cell death to rupture tumors. In 2015, Imlygic got the FDA's approval, the first virus-based cancer treatment to do so. Now Amgen is bringing the drug to market to treat difficult skin melanomas. In trials, 16% of patients saw their tumors shrink in response to Imlygic alone, compared to 2% with other immune-boosting drugs. Studies in which the virus is used in combination with immune boosters show even more promising results. But even with FDA approval, the window for melanoma treatment is small: The cancer can't be too early in development or too far advanced. And Imlygic therapy is expensive: $65,000 for a single round. But the approval could speed acceptance and adoption for the many other cancer-fighting viruses already in development.
The company's competitive advantage in 2016:
First virus-based cancer drug on the market
The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:
Overcoming the small window for effective treatment: A patient's cancer can't be too far advanced, but patients must have lesions that the drug can be injected into.
High price point: $65,000 for a single round of therapy
Social media handles:
32.6% minorities at Amgen, compared to 31% across pharmaceutical industry
24.4% minorities in officials/managers at Amgen, compared to 22.9% across pharmaceutical industry
49.3% females at Amgen, compared to 47.8% across pharmaceutical industry