Mundipharma to distribute J&J diabetes drugs in Europe

European pharma group Mundipharma has struck a deal with Janssen for two primary care diabetes drugs, Invokana and Vokanamet, in selected European countries.

The deal will see Mundipharma distribute the type 2 diabetes drugs in all countries in the European Economic Area and Switzerland where the products have obtained price and reimbursement approval.

The move suggests J&J believes the drugs won’t be able to achieve strong growth in the competitive, cost-conscious markets of Europe, and wants to share its costs with Mundipharma.

Invokana hit problems earlier this year after clinical trial data showed it reduces risk of cardiovascular death, but almost doubles the risk of lower extremity amputations – and the J&J unit may want to shore up income from the product in the light of the disappointing data.

Mundipharma, a network of independent associated pharma companies, also has experience in marketing other companies’ drugs – it already has rights to Celltrion’s Remicade biosimilar in the UK after the South Korean manufacturer opted to distribute it via several partners in Europe.

The agreement builds on an existing alliance between the Johnson & Johnson unit and Mundipharma, which co-promotes Invokana in the UK through subsidiary Napp Pharmaceuticals.

Invokana (canagliflozin) is a sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor first approved in 2013, to improve glycaemic control where diet and exercise to not provide adequate glycaemic control either as monotherapy, when metformin is contraindicated or unsuitable, or as add-on therapy.

Vokanamet is approved in the EU to improve glycaemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, combining canagliflozin and metformin in a fixed dose combination.

Mundipharma will sell, market and promote both products in 14 of the 17 European markets where Janssen has already secured reimbursement, with the additional three to be included in the coming months.

If Janssen agrees pricing and reimbursement for the products in other countries, Mundipharma can add them to the agreement.

Janssen’s EU affiliate Janssen-Cilag will still hold the licence in the concerned countries, will continue manufacturing the products, and will be responsible for regulatory activities such as safety monitoring and label updates.

And last month Mundipharma bought rights to develop, market and manufacture cancer drug CAP7.1 from Germany’s CellAct.

With contract research firm EDO it will develop CAP7.1, a prodrug of anticancer agent etoposide, in phase 3 biliary tract cancer trials.


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