Many companies in our industry have pursued a strategy known as “Shots on Goal,” where the aim is to maximize the number of molecules in drug pipelines to raise the odds that at least a few will prove successful. This approach is designed to address our still limited knowledge of human biology, but in practice it often leads to higher drug development costs and low productivity.
Amgen’s strategy is to rely instead on our scientific leaders to “Pick the Winners” by identifying and expediting highly promising programs. Toward that end, we prioritize programs based on targets that have been validated in humans, primarily through genetic research that shows a target’s clear influence on disease risk. For example, genetic studies uncovered the link between PCSK9 and cholesterol homeostasis, and similar research revealed sclerostin’s important role in regulating bone growth. Our subsidiary, deCODE Genetics, gives Amgen new strength in population genetics, positioning us to lead the unfolding revolution in gene-based target discovery.
While this strategy does not guarantee that each designated program will prove successful, we are confident that it will increase the overall rate of success for Amgen’s clinical trials, accelerate drug development timelines, reduce costs, and improve returns on our R&D investment.
When we find ourselves with more programs than we can deliver for patients with our own resources, we are moving more aggressively to partner or out-license these surplus assets. The resulting agreements provide revenues that can be used to support key programs in our pipeline, and they serve the interests of patients by ensuring that more potential drugs get developed.
We are also active in our pursuit of external innovation that can complement our internal capabilities and programs. This willingness to embrace innovation wherever we can find it is exemplified by our acquisitions of deCODE Genetics, Micromet, KAI Pharmaceuticals, and Onyx Pharmaceuticals.