Celltrion plans to launch a biosimilar each year for next decade

There are plenty of pharma companies outlining their strategies for the new decade this week at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, and South Korea’s biosimilars specialist Celltrion was no exception.

Celltrion’s chairman Jung Jin Seo said the company expects to launch a biosimilar every year until 2030, building on its portfolio of already-approved drugs.

Biosimilars are near-copies of biologic drugs, and Celltrion was the first to successfully market a biosimilar of a monoclonal antibody in 2013.

Before its version of Johnson & Johnson/MSD’s Remicade (infliximab) was approved in Europe in 2013, there were doubts as to whether it was even possible to get near-copies of such a complex molecule past regulators.

But Celltrion’s infliximab biosimilar, branded as Remsima, proved a huge hit in Europe and a whole string of other antibody biosimilars have followed, taking market share in the EU and in some cases.

There has also been some success in the US although some biosimilar launches have been delayed because of patent issues.

Since then other companies have also got in on the action – South Korean rival Samsung Bioepis is establishing itself as a biosimilars specialist, while companies such as Amgen, Pfizer, and Teva are also players.

Celltrion cited figures from IQVIA showing that Remsima has overtaken Remicade’s market share, and has around 59% of the market.

Celltrion’s Truxima, a biosimilar of Roche’s cancer drug rituximab, and Herzuma referring to the Swiss firm’s breast cancer drug Herceptin (trastuzumab) have also got the lion’s share of their respective markets.

The company’s strategy is to offer a value-added version of its biosimilars, such as its subcutaneously administered version of Remsima.

This offers a more convenient treatment option than the originator, taking minutes to administer instead of hours and was approved in rheumatoid arthritis in Europe late last year.

Celltrion has applied for an extension of the marketing authorisation to cover the inflammatory bowel disease indication, with an approval expected in mid-2020.

Ho Ung Kim, head of the medical and marketing division at Celltrion Healthcare said, “As a ‘first mover’, Celltrion Healthcare has gained extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical field and is now ready to initiate a direct sales model.

“Celltrion Healthcare has set up its own sales network and overseas offices in 14 countries throughout Europe to secure price competitiveness, and strives to lead the global tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors market with its innovative infliximab Remsima SC, which is projected to be worth approximately $50 billion.”

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