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Amgen Disappointed by Initial Sales of Immunex Drug

Amgen Disappointed by Initial Sales of Immunex Drug Media & Technology by Carlos Martinez Officials at biotech giant Amgen Inc. of Thousand Oaks said it plans to increase production of its anti-inflammatory drug, Enbrel, after slow sales last quarter due to supply problems at the company’s Immunex Corp. manufacturing unit. Amgen acquired Immunex in May for about $10 billion in cash and stock. Enbrel brought in about $158 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30 well below projected sales of $350 million to $400 million. A company spokesman said it plans to increase production at a new Rhode Island facility that will manufacture the drug used by rheumatoid arthritis patients. The new facility is scheduled to be inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next month. If approved, production will begin soon thereafter. Enbrel is also manufactured at Immunex’s Seattle facilities. Due to a $3 billion write-off related to the Immunex acquisition, Amgen reported a $2.6 billion loss on $1.5 billion in revenue for the quarter ending Sept. 30, compared to the same period last year when it reported $330 million in net income on $1 billion in revenue. The write-off was due to costs in ongoing research and development at Immunex, the company said. Amgen, however, received good news when an arbitrator ruled in its favor Oct. 18 in its breach of contract case against Johnson & Johnson and awarded it $150 million. The company has said Johnson & Johnson unfairly promoted its Procrit drug for dialysis use, in direct competition with Amgen’s brand of the same drug. Amgen had licensed Procrit to Johnson & Johnson for the rheumatoid arthritis market. MRV Sells Optical Unit Struggling telecommunications device maker MRV Communications Inc. has sold subsidiaries Fiber Optic Communications and Quantum Optech, based in Taiwan and China, respectively, to an unnamed group of investors made up of the two units’ management. MRV, based in Chatsworth, sold the two companies for $8 million in cash and $2 million in credits that would go toward future purchases. An estimated 430 people work at the two companies. MRV President Noam Lotan said the sale will help the company’s bottom line by reducing its overall costs. The two units make so-called “passive optical devices,” components used in both metro and long-haul telecommunications networks, such as thin-film filters, couplers, splitters and isolators. The company has struggled with the downturn in the tech market and has not reported an annual profit since 1997. For the quarter ending June 30, MRV reported a loss of $21.1 million on $61.6 million in revenue, compared to the same period last year when it reported a $94.1 million loss on $89.5 million in revenue. OCP Acquires Rival Cielo Communications Optical Communications Products Inc. of Chatsworth has acquired fellow optical device maker, Cielo Communications of Broomfield, Colo. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Muois V. Tran, CEO and president of Optical Communications Products, said the acquisition will enhance his company’s ability to expand its number of devices for fiber optics communications networks. “We are also pleased to have added some very talented people whom we believe will make a significant contribution to OCP’s success in the future,” Tran said. As part of the deal, Optical Communications has acquired all of the company’s assets, equipment and intellectual property. The company also has hired 20 former Cielo staffers to work at that company’s former site in Colorado. Optical Communications is a publicly traded company on Nasdaq; 60.7 percent of its stock is owned by Furukawa Electric Co. of Tokyo. British Defense Firm Acquires Condor Pacific BAE Systems North America, a unit of the former British Aerospace, now BAE Systems in England, has agreed to acquire Condor Pacific Industries of Westlake Village for $58.5 million. Condor Pacific makes navigation and control products for the defense industry. BAE said last week the purchase will be funded with existing cash and will close within 60 days, pending regulatory approval. The company said there will be no layoffs among Condor Pacific’s 566 employees. Condor Pacific also has facilities in Connecticut and Ohio. BAE is known for developing the British Royal Air Force’s Mosquito and Spitfire fighters during World War II and the Harrier fighter. It is ranked the fourth largest defense contractor in the world, with $13.1 billion in sales last year. Weider Remains Mum on Sale Talks Officials at Weider Publications Inc. of Woodland Hills would not comment on current talks with potential buyers for the company, which publishes Shape, Health & Fitness and other health magazines. Kirsten Chapman, a spokeswoman for the company, said Weider has not made any decisions regarding a potential sale. Weider Publications is a unit of privately held Weider Health and Fitness, a majority stockholder in the publicly traded Weider Nutrition International Inc., which sells nutritional supplements, sports drinks and nutrition bars. Joe Weider, the company’s 80-year-old founder and chairman, established the company in 1939 with his brother Ben. Weider Publications employs about 325 people and publishes seven magazines with a combined circulation of about 4 million. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, Shape, the company’s top publication, has increased its circulation from 950,000 in 1997 to 1.7 million today, with ad pages increasing by 10 percent so far this year. ISWest Buys Fellow ISP VCNet Agoura Hills-based Internet service provider ISWest Inc. has acquired fellow ISP VCNet of Camarillo for about $2 million. Drew Kaplan, vice president of ISWest, said the deal gives the company a greater foothold in eastern Ventura County, where the bulk of the company’s customers are. “The merger also gives ISWest a total of 10 tier-one backbone providers under one roof, for redundancy and fastest routing,” he said. About 70 percent of ISWest’s 2,500 customers are in Ventura County with the remainder in Los Angeles County. VCNet has 1,400 customers. The two companies provide Internet service to businesses for business-to-business purposes. ISWest was founded in 1996. Business Journal reporter Carlos Martinez may be reached at (818) 676-1750 ext. 17 or by e-mail at cmartinez@sfvbj.com

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