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Novartis enters biosimilar agreement with Biocon

Published on 19/01/18 at 09:37am
IMAGE: Sandoz facility

Novartis’ Sandoz unit had already staked a claim to being one of the leaders in the developing biosimilar market and has made another move to further expand its influence.

It announced that it has signed an exclusive global collaboration deal with Biocon that should see the generics manufacture expand its biosimilar portfolio in the future.

The partnership will involve developing, manufacturing and commercialising biosimilars in the immunology and oncology space. The agreement has Sandoz set to take the lead commercialising any developed products in North America and the EU, while Biocon snags the rest of the world.

The move is a vote of confidence in Biocon’s ability to successfully bring biosimilars through to the market, after its partnership with Mylan finally proved fruitful with an FDA nod for their Herceptin biosimilar.

It had looked like Biocon would struggle to get the Herceptin biosimilar past FDA regulators, after it knocked back the product on manufacturing grounds before it finally achieved the breakthrough approval in December of last year.

It seems that this signalled to Novartis that a partnership with the company would be viable. For its part, investors also rallied behind Biocon on the announcement – with shares rising 5.3% on the announcement.

“Today’s announcement bolsters our leadership position in biosimilars and positions us to continue to lead well into the future,” said Richard Francis, CEO, Sandoz. “Biocon is a great complement to our proven biosimilar capabilities at Sandoz. Through this collaboration, we are reinforcing our long-term commitment to increase patient access to biologics.”

A key part of the reason behind the partnership is the knowledge that pressures on generics look likely to continue into the future, with the FDA taking steps to encourage generic competition on the market to drive down prices.

Biosimilars, however, are proving to be disruptive in the European market, reaping respectable sales from blockbuster treatments. If and when this translates to the North American market, they could be the next growth driver for Sandoz whilst the generics market remains challenging.

Ben Hargreaves

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