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Boehringer Ingelheim joins other Big Pharma going into biosimilars Posted 30/09/2011

Big Pharma is once again taking a major interest in biosimilars. The latest big pharmaceutical player to show an interest is biopharmaceutical specialist Boehringer Ingelheim. The German-based company announced on 26 September 2011 that it would create a dedicated division for the development and commercialisation of biosimilars.

Professor Dr Wolfram Carius, member of the Board of Managing Directors and responsible for operations, commented on the announcement saying, ‘we believe that biosimilars will become a major part of the biopharmaceutical market and will enable many more patients access to important medicines.’ He added that ‘we feel confident that we are able to leverage our capabilities in product development, supply and clinical expertise at Boehringer Ingelheim to offer high quality biosimilars understanding patients’ needs.’

With biosimilars tipped to become a multibillion-dollar market in the coming years, it is not surprising that Boehringer Ingelheim is not the only Big Pharma showing an interest in biosimilars. Merck has entered into an alliance with contract research organisation (CRO) Parexel to provide biosimilars to Merck BioVentures [1], Actavis and Bioton announced an agreement in September 2010 [2], and Pfizer made a deal for commercialisation of Biocon’s biosimilar insulin and insulin analogs in October 2010 [3].

Even non-pharma are getting in on the act, and some unlikely partnerships have taken place, including South Korean electronics giant Samsung, petrochemicals group Hanwha Chemical, Indian industrial giant Reliance and Japanese camera maker Fujifilm [4].

Samsung signed a deal in February 2011 with CRO Quintiles to produce both originator biotech products and biosimilars [5]. Merck made a deal with Hanwha Chemical to develop and commercialise a biosimilar version of Amgen and Pfizer’s blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel (etanercept), which could be worth up to US$720 million [6].

Major generics players, such as Hospira, Sandoz and Teva, have also signalled that biosimilars are a priority for growth. Novartis’s Sandoz unit has already proved itself to be a major player in the biosimilars market, being the only manufacturer so far to have more than two biosimilars on the market.

Biosimilars, despite their high development costs, are increasingly becoming part of the future of the pharmaceutical industry. The global biosimilars market is expected to grow from US$243 million in 2010 to US$3.7 billion in 2015, according to 2011 data from Datamonitor [7].

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References

1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Merck and Parexel form strategic alliance for biosimilars [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Merck-and-Parexel-form-strategic-alliance-for-biosimilars

2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Everybody jumping on the biosimilars bandwagon [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Everybody-jumping-on-the-biosimilars-bandwagon

3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Pfizer and India-based Biocon make biosimilar insulin deal [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Pfizer-and-India-based-Biocon-make-biosimilar-insulin-deal

4. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Partnerships will drive biosimilar development [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Partnerships-will-drive-biosimilar-development

5. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Samsung to enter biosimilars market [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Samsung-to-enter-biosimilars-market

6. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Merck enters biosimilars deal with Korea’s Hanwha [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Merck-enters-biosimilars-deal-with-Korea-s-Hanwha

7. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Stada and Richter to collaborate on biosimilar development [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 September 30]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/Stada-and-Richter-to-collaborate-on-biosimilar-development

Source: Boehringer Ingelheim

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