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Amgen’s Aranesp for Anemia Fails to Help Heart Patients

Amgen Inc.’s anemia drug Aranesp didn’t keep heart failure patients alive longer or out of the hospital, according to the results of a large study that found no new safety issues with the drug.

The trial, begun in 2006, followed 2,278 heart failure patients who also had anemia and received either Aranesp or a placebo. The study didn’t meet its main goal of slowing time to death or hospital admission for worsening heart failure, Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen said today in a statement.

There were “no new safety findings identified in the study,” Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, said in the statement. Full results from the study will be presented at a future medical meeting, the company said.

Aranesp is approved for treating anemia in kidney disease patients and some cancer patients. It is part of a class of red blood cell stimulating drugs that can increase the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, or tumor progression or recurrence in cancer patients, according to a boxed warning on the drug’s label. The warning about heart risk was added in 2007, Ashleigh Koss, an Amgen spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Sales of the drug were $2.3 billion in 2011 after reaching $4.1 billion in 2006.

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