Partnerships will drive biosimilar development

Biosimilars/News | Posted 24/06/2011 post-comment0 Post your comment

With biosimilars tipped to become a multibillion-dollar market in the coming years, everybody is jumping on the biosimilars bandwagon, and it seems it’s not just limited to pharmaceutical companies.


Unlikely partnerships that have taken place recently include South Korean electronics giant Samsung, petrochemicals group Hanwha Chemical, Indian industrial giant Reliance Industries and Japanese Fujifilm Corporation.

Samsung made a deal back in February 2011 with contract research organisation Quintiles to provide biologicals manufacturing and biosimilar development. Samsung has set the lofty goal of generating US$1.8 trillion a year from biopharmaceuticals by 2020 [1].

While Merck Bioventures made a deal worth up to US$720 million with Hanwha to develop and commercialize a biosimilar version of Amgen and Pfizer’s blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel (etanercept) [2].

‘This is a business that is going to be characterized by partnering, because no one company has all the components they need,’ Mr Mike Kamarck, President of Merck Bioventures, the US drugmaker’s biosimilars division, told Reuters. He added that ‘companies that aren’t going to make large investments aren’t going to play globally’. So it is no wonder large companies with big pockets are getting involved—pharma or not!

The costs of developing a typical biosimilar are estimated to be more than US$100 million and they may take five to six years to develop—much more than a small molecule generic—reflecting the complexity of the molecules in question.

Despite this companies are still flocking to get a piece of the biosimilars pie, which is not surprising as the prize is huge. Over the next decade, patents on biotech drugs with global sales of Euros 90 billion are set to expire, according to the European Generic medicines Association.

According to Reuters, these big pacts are on track to hit a record pace in 2011. There have already been nine deals for manufacturing, supply, distribution or licensing of biosimilars so far during 2011, compared to just seven during the whole of 2010.

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Samsung to enter biosimilars market []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 June 23]. Available from:

2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Merck enters biosimilars deal with Korea’s Hanwha []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2011 June 23]. Available from:

Source: Reuters

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