Amgen Inc. has increased the price of Epogen, its anemia drug for dialysis patients, by 5%, the first price change for the drug since 2011, the company announced. The increase was effective May 24.

The price increase does not affect Amgen’s other anemia drug, Aranesp.

“In making pricing decisions, many factors are evaluated, including several that are applicable to the pharmaceutical industry at large and some that are unique to Amgen and to Epogen (epoetin alfa),” Amgen said in a prepared statement. “We believe a responsible price reflects the clinical benefits of the product, offsets medical costs, and funds continued scientific innovation while helping to ensure access and broader value to appropriate patients, caregivers, payers and society.”

While the price increase will have a minimal affect on dialysis clinics with multi-year contracts or those that get a volume discount from Amgen, other, smaller dialysis providers with short-term contracts will feel the change in pricing.  One dialysis provider told NN&I that the 5% increase would cost him $50,000 over the next 12 months.

Earlier this week, NASDAQ told Affymax Inc. it would delist the company after its stock price dropped to $1.37. Affymax’s Omontys anemia drug, launched in March 2012 after gaining Food and Drug Administration approval, was Amgen’s sole competitor in the dialysis market until three patient deaths linked to a series of hypersensitivity reactions forced the company to recall the product in February. At that point, more than 25,000 patients were taking the drug, which only required once-a-month dosing compared to three-times-a-week for Epogen.

See attached letter from Amgen announcing the price increase.