Biocon and Sandoz strike biosimilars partnership

Biosimilars firms Biocon and Sandoz have formed a worldwide partnership to develop the next generation of biosimilars in immunology and cancer.

Biocon already has a long-standing partnership with Mylan to develop biosimilars, producing around six biosimilars including cut-price versions of blockbusters such AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) and Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) breast cancer drug.

After a delay caused by quality shortcomings at a manufacturing plant, Biocon and Mylan managed to get their Herceptin biosimilar approved by the FDA last month.

Sandoz is also a major player in this field and was the first company to get a biosimilar approved in Europe, back in 2006, and in the US in 2015.

The new partnership between the two players reflects a drive to cut overheads and increase profitability in the increasingly competitive market.

Under the latest deal Sandoz and Biocon will share responsibility for end-to-end development, manufacturing and regulatory filings for an unspecified number of products.

They will share cost and profits and marketing responsibilities will be divided according to the companies’ strengths within specific regions.

Sandoz will lead marketing in North America and the EU, while Biocon will take the lead in marketing biosimilars in the rest of the world.

Biosimilars are near-copies of expensive biologic drugs, approved using special regulations that require clinical, analytical and preclinical evidence showing they can be used in place of the originator drug.

Unlike small molecule drugs, biologic drugs are grown in cells and are therefore more difficult to copy, especially as rival manufacturers do not have access to original cell lines and technical information about the production process.

Although biosimilars are not sold at the rock-bottom prices seen in the generics market, they could save healthcare systems billions of dollars and increase access to highly effective biologic medicines.

Sandoz CEO Richard Francis

Sandoz CEO Richard Francis said: “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.”

Biocon’s CEO, Dr Arun Chadavarkar, said: “Our collaboration with Sandoz will bolster our existing global biosimilars portfolio comprising biosimilar antibodies and insulin analogues and will enable us to address the next wave of global biosimilars opportunities.”

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