| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) said on Thursday that between this year and 2016 it will have key late-stage data from eight experimental medicines, and that it expects generic versions of biotech drugs, known as biosimilars, to be a multi-billion dollar opportunity for the company.
Amgen Chief Executive Robert Bradway, at a meeting in New York with analysts and investors to provide an update to its business strategy, said the company plans to launch six biosimilars beginning in 2017 - four cancer drugs and two for inflammatory diseases.
The world's largest biotechnology company believes it has a unique capability to become a major player in biosimilars once U.S. health regulators finalize the approval pathway for such drugs, which are not identical matches of the branded medicines the way traditional generic versions of pills are.
Amgen also raised its 2013 earnings forecast to account for a tax credit due to federal settlements for prior years.
Amgen said that it now expects adjusted 2013 earnings of $7.05 per share to $7.35 per share, and that it would record the credit in the first quarter. The company last month had forecast earnings per share of $6.85 to $7.15.
The 2013 revenue forecast remains unchanged at $17.8 billion to $18.2 billion.
The company said it plans to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions, and that it expects to expand its business into Japan and China after 2016.
"We think this has the potential for a meaningful contribution to the business," Bradway said of long-term Asian expansion plans.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Chizu Nomiyama)