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Healthcare

Amgen CEO looking for international acquisitions

* Looking to expand internationally

* No interest in acquiring diagnostics company

LOS ANGELES, June 17 (Reuters) - Amgen Inc AMGN.O is "aggressively" looking at acquisitions, particularly opportunities for international expansion, Chief Executive Kevin Sharer said in a webcast presentation on Thursday.

“We will take a risk in acquisitions, but it will be a measured risk. It sure won’t be a bet-the-company risk,” he said at a Goldman Sachs conference.

Sharer also said Amgen is seeking to intelligently invest its growing offshore cash position.

“Our focus is always going to be on quality and growth,” he said, noting that Amgen is not interested in buying a company that it would need to “fix.”

The CEO said Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, is wary of diluting its focus and skills on a sector, such as clinical diagnostics, that doesn’t fit with its core.

“Taking a big step into that now just doesn’t make sense,” Sharer said, noting that very few drugs have so far been directly linked to biomarkers that identify which patients will respond to them.

“I wouldn’t go out and get into diagnostics just because diagnostics are someday, somehow related to drugs,” he said.

Sharer said he is uncertain about the market growth rate for Prolia, the company’s osteoporosis drug that recently won approval from both U.S. and European regulators.

The company has also filed for approval of the bone drug, known generically as denosumab, in some cancer patients.

Sharer called Amgen’s mid-stage pipeline “robust,” noting that it recently moved two molecules into Phase 3 testing in ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

The CEO also said he didn’t know when the bottom would be reached for sales of Amgen’s anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, which have come under scrutiny in recent years for safety risks.

Sharer said pricing pressures, such as changes in Medicare reimbursement, and patent expirations have complicated the outlook for the drugs.

Shares of Amgen were down 14 cents at $55.08 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Deena Beasley, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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