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Preventing migraines is biopharma’s next multibillion-dollar opportunity, according to Amgen, which is leading a gaggle of drug makers racing to the market. But if warding off headaches is such a lucrative opportunity, why is Amgen suddenly giving up some of the spoils of its in-development therapy?

That’s the question buzzing around Wall Street circles after Amgen’s recent deal with Novartis, in which it promised the Swiss giant a cut of US sales of its migraine drug in exchange for help with the costs of development and marketing. The drug, which reduces monthly migraines by targeting a protein called CGRP, is widely expected to bring in blockbuster sales once it’s approved next year, making Amgen’s move seem incongruous to analysts.


“Amgen is a major pharma company, and despite Novartis being a ‘friend,’ it is almost inconceivable to believe it would share the lucrative US market if it believed this will be a $10 billion-plus market,” Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to investors.

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