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Amgen boosts Japan prospects with Astellas partnership

Companies establish joint venture and plan to co-develop new medicines

Amgen boosts Japan prospects with Astellas partnership

Amgen is set to gain a stronger foothold in Japan through an alliance with Tokyo-based Astellas focused on providing medicines for patients with serious unmet medical needs.

US-based biotech Amgen has previously announced its intentions to expand in Asia, where there is a “noticeable gap” in its business, and this long-term alliance provides the company with access to the commercial team of the country's biggest pharma companies.

The partnership is broken down into two parts, the first of which will involve the co-development and co-commercialisation in Japan of five medicines in Amgen's pipeline.

These medicines include AMG 145, which is in global phase III trials for the cholesterol condition hyperlipidemia, and the investigational osteoporosis treatment romosozumab, which is also in global phase III.

The remaining three drugs are all in cancer indications: rilotumumab for gastric cancer (global phase III, Japan phase I); AMG 337 also for gastric cancer (global phase I); and blinatumomab for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (global phase II).

According to Amgen, the first potential launch in Japan for one of these products could be as early as 2016.

The second aspect of the partnership is a Tokyo-based joint venture company to be called Amgen Astellas BioPharma KK.

This business marks Amgen's strongest physical presence in Japan yet, and operations are expected to start as early as October 1, 2013.

Its staff will comprise existing staff from both Astellas and Amgen, as well as new hires, and it will be headed by Eiichi Takahashi.

Robert Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen, discussed the reasons behind the deal.

"Through this alliance, Amgen will work closely with Astellas to leverage its extensive knowledge of the local market,” he said.

"With Astellas' strong capabilities and excellent reputation, this alliance will help accelerate development and commercialisation of Amgen medicines for patients in Japan.”

29th May 2013

From: Research, Sales

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