Amgen spending millions to fight CMS anemia drug limits

Hoping to get CMS to change its mind on new anemia drug reimbursement limits, Amgen is spending millions lobbying on Capitol Hill to gin up sentiment for an override. During the first six months of 2007 alone, the company spent $9 million on lobbying, up from $10.2 million during all of 2006, according to recent reports. The lobbying investment is no surprise, given that its anemia drug Aranesp generated $4.1 billion in sales last year.

In addition to hitting the Hill, the drugmaker is asking cancer patients to submit testimonials on how the drug worked for them and asked them to write their legislator. (Physicians, don't be surprised if your patient asks you for help, too--pharma communications departments definitely know how to get consumers engaged.)

Right now, CMS plans to limit Medicare coverage of anemia medications in cancer patients. The agency only wants to pay for drugs like Amgen's Aranesp when used to treat anemia associated with certain cancers. Restrictions originally proposed earlier this year by CMS could half cut use of these drugs by as much as one-half, according to the pharmas.

To find out more about the lobbying effort:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item
- read a more-detailed review of proposed CMS rule

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Amgen stock slips as anemia drug concerns rise. Report