Amgen Inc.'s continued growth in sales of Epogen, one of twoproducts marketed by the biotechnology industry leader, helpedincrease net income 30 percent for the second quarter of this year to$179 million on revenues of $571 million.

Sales of Epogen, a red blood cell booster used by kidney dialysispatients, rose 23 percent in the three months ending June 30, 1996, to$264 million from $216 million for the same period in 1995.

Amgen's other drug, Neupogen, a white blood cell booster used bycancer chemotherapy patients, generated a 3 percent increase in salesto $255 million from $247 million a year ago.

David Kaye, spokesman for the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company,said Epogen's revenue growth has been due, in part, to a 10 percentannual increase in the number of dialysis patients as well as greaterawareness by physicians on the benefits of the drug.

Amgen's net income of $179 million _ compared with $138 millionfor the same quarter in 1995 _ boosted earnings 31 percent to 64cents per share from 49 cents in 1995.

The jump followed an equally strong first quarter in which netincome was up 32 percent over the same period the year before.

Second quarter 1996 earnings included 4 cents related to incomefrom a one-time $15 million license payment from YamanouchiPharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, for rights to Infergen (consensusinterferon) outside the U.S. and Canada. Amgen has filed for FDAapproval of Infergen for hepatitis C.

Excluding the 4 cents from the Yamanouchi deal, Amgen's secondquarter performance was 2 cents better than Wall Street analysts'projection of 58 cents.

The $571 million in revenues represented a 16 percent increase overlast year's second quarter revenues of $494 million.

Six-month figures show Amgen's net income increased 31 percent to$322 million from $246 million a year ago. Total revenues jumped16 percent to $1.1 billion in 1996 from $933 million for the first twoquarters of 1995.

First half revenues in 1996 include $995 million in combined sales ofEpogen and Neupogen and $83.5 million in corporate partner androyalty payments. Per share earnings from January through June ofthis year increased 30 percent to $1.14 from 88 cents in 1995.

In addition to the Yamanouchi licensing agreement, other projectsfrom the second quarter included the initiation of Phase I studies ofAmgen's anti-obesity drug candidate, leptin, a hormone believed tobe a natural appetite suppressant.

The company paid $20 million in 1995 to license from RockefellerUniversity in New York the gene that expresses leptin and agreed tocontribute another $70 million in milestone payments to the school.

Amgen also said it will share with Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., of Tokyo,_ the Japanese partner on Epogen and Neupogen _ development of asecond generation Epogen product, called novel erythropoiesisstimulating protein (NESP). Kirin received rights to NESP for Asia.Amgen retains ownership elsewhere.

During the second quarter of 1996 Amgen boosted its research anddevelopment expenses 14 percent to $124 million from $108 millionduring the same period in 1995.

The company released its second quarter earnings report after themarket closed Thursday. Friday, as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time,Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) was up 87 cents to $56.25. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.