Bausch + Lomb buys US rights to Stada’s Lucentis biosimilar

Bausch + Lomb has bought US and Canadian rights to a potential biosimilar competitor to Novartis’ Lucentis from Germany’s Stada, as the blockbuster approaches the end of its patent protected period next month. 

Bausch + Lomb is part of Bausch Health Companies, formerly known as Valeant, which has rebranded in an effort to distance itself from a disastrous pricing scandal a couple of years ago. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Bausch + Lomb will make a mid-single million” dollar payment, plus further milestone payments if the drug is approved in the US. 

Stada and Xbrane will also be entitled to a share of gross profits from sales of the product by Bausch + Lomb and will share equally in the proceeds they receive. 

The companies aim to develop the biosimilar for all of the currently approved indications for Lucentis in both the US and Canada. 

Lucentis (ranibizumab) was first approved in the US in 2006 for wet age-related macular degeneration, and since then has racked up a host of other indications including diabetic macular oedema, and diabetic retinopathy. 

Novartis’ Q1 figures showed sales of $487 million, down 6% on a constant currency basis compared with the same period last year. 

But it is still the company’s fourth largest drug in terms of sales and the Swiss pharma has produced a follow-on drug, Beovu, which does not need to be injected as frequently. 

The US patent on Lucentis expires next month and Bayer’s big rival Eylea is also set to lose its patent protection this year, opening up the market to cheaper rivals. 

Biosimilars are biologic drugs that are shown to be as safe and effective as the originator, although there may be slight differences as they are manufactured in cells rather than using industrial processes. 

STADA CEO Peter Goldschmidt said: “We are convinced that the biosimilar ranibizumab has strong commercial potential in North America. 

“With its deep relationships with eye care professionals in North America, and an effective salesforce already in place to promote their comprehensive pharmaceuticals portfolio, we believe that Bausch + Lomb is the ideal partner to broaden access to this ophthalmic treatment in North America.” 

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