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Amgen Names Chief Executive, President

Amgen, a biotechnology company in Thousand Oaks, has promoted Gordon M. Binder to chief executive and Harry F. Hixson Jr. to president and chief operating officer.

George B. Rathmann, who remains Amgen’s chairman, had been president and chief executive as well, but he will now relinquish management of Amgen’s daily operations so that he can focus on Amgen’s long-range strategy, said spokesman Mark Brand.

“George was one of the people who pushed for this change,” Brand said. With Amgen on the verge of marketing its first commercial product, Rathmann decided Binder and Hixson, “who have really been running the company on a day-to-day basis, should receive the credit,” Brand said.

Rathmann, 60, who was one of the company’s first employees after it was founded in 1980, “will help plan the next era of Amgen,” Brand said.

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Binder, 53, had been Amgen’s senior vice president and chief financial officer since 1982. He will be succeeded as chief financial officer by Lowell Sears, Amgen’s treasurer. Hixson, 50, had been senior vice president-operations since 1985. Previously, Amgen had no one with the title of chief operating officer.

Amgen is awaiting approval from the Federal Drug Administration to sell its first product, erythropoietin, or EPO. The drug, whose trade name is Epogen, helps stimulate the production of red cells in the blood, which in turn helps patients undergoing dialysis and other treatments to ward off anemia.

Amgen hopes to get FDA approval for EPO by year’s end and to begin marketing it in early 1989. Next year the company also will seek approval of a second drug, Neupogen, which stimulates production of white blood cells and helps strengthen the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

In the six months ended Sept. 30, Amgen earned $625,000 on revenue of $41 million. Because it is still largely a development company, most of Amgen’s revenue comes from companies that are Amgen’s partners in developing biotechnology products expected to be sold commercially.

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