Amgen will stop giving rebates to cancer clinics prescribing its anemia drug Aranesp to avoid what it called the "possible misperception"...

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Amgen will stop giving rebates to cancer clinics prescribing its anemia drug Aranesp to avoid what it called the “possible misperception” the payments encouraged overuse.

Amgen also will change pricing for two other cancer drugs, Neulasta and Neupogen, by stopping discounts based on doctors’ purchases of Aranesp and selling each product separately, the biotech company said Thursday. Instead of rebates, Amgen will offer discounts at the time of purchase.

Members of Congress have criticized Amgen’s rebates for encouraging clinics to prescribe the three drugs unnecessarily. Amgen paid almost $800 million in Aranesp rebates to 6,000 facilities in 2006, according to an April report by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

The clinics were reimbursed by insurance companies for the full price of the medicines and allowed to keep the rebates, Grassley said. Aranesp generated $3.61 billion in 2007, a quarter of Amgen’s revenue.

“We believe these contracting changes, along with other modifications, help to clear up those possible misperceptions and ensure that discussion of our products continues to be focused on their clinical profiles and what is in the best interest of patients,” Amgen said.

The changes will begin Oct. 1. Amgen said it found no evidence its products were overused.

Neulasta and Neupogen help boost white blood cells killed by chemotherapy. Aranesp treats anemia also caused by chemotherapy.