Coherus denies stealing secrets from Amgen

AmgenLandscape 2

Biosimilars specialist Coherus BioSciences has said that Amgen has accused it of stealing trade secrets.

Coherus, based in California, is one of a group of companies attempting to produce cheaper biosimilars of Amgen’s longer-lasting white blood cell booster, Neulasta (pegfilgrastim).

The patent expired on Neulasta in 2015 - but as no-one has yet launched a cut-price competitor it is still a blockbuster, generating sales of more than a 1 billion per quarter.

Redwood City-based Coherus said Amgen filed a trade secret action in California state court on 3 March.

Coherus’ CEO, Denny Lanfear, said the biotech believes the action “is without merit and will defend against it vigorously” and rejects the theme of the lawsuit that Coherus and other parties stole trade secrets.

Lanfear added: “Coherus believes this lawsuit is best understood as an effort by Amgen to use baseless litigation in an effort to delay Coherus as a competitor in the pegfilgrastim market.”

He said the biotech is capable of developing biosimilars without using information from Amgen.

Amgen fighting on two fronts

Amgen, which did not make any immediate comment, has recently been active in the courts, both defending its own drugs and challenging patents on a rival medicine.

[caption id="attachment_24510" align="alignnone" width="440"]Sanofi and Regeneron's Praluent Sanofi and Regeneron's Praluent[/caption]

At the beginning of the year, Amgen won a lawsuit against Sanofi, which alleged that the latter’s cholesterol drug Praluent infringes on patents covering Amgen’s rival PCSK9 inhibitor, Repatha.

Although Sanofi has appealed, it may have to pull Praluent from the US market because of the ruling.

Ironically, Amgen also makes biosimilars and has launched a legal challenge in order to market a  biosimilar of AbbVie’s big-selling inflammatory diseases drug, Humira (adalimumab).

Mylan and Biocon look to be in pole position to market a biosimilar of Neulasta in the US, following a filing with the FDA last month.

Last year, Sandoz suffered a setback when the FDA rejected its Neulasta biosimilar. Sandoz has launched a US biosimilar of Amgen’s shorter-lasting white blood cell booster, Neupogen (filgrastim).

Sandoz also plans to launch a US biosimilar of Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept) inflammatory diseases blockbuster next year.