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BMS partners with Simcere to market arthritis drug Orencia SC in China

Builds on existing cancer/ cholesterol alliance between pharma companies

BMS Orencia abatacept

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has enlisted the aid of Simcere Pharmaceutical to develop and market arthritis drug Orencia in China, expanding their collaboration beyond cancer and cholesterol drugs.

Under the terms of the deal, Simcere will help BMS develop the new subcutaneous (SC) formulation of its rheumatoid arthritis therapy Orencia (abatacept), with the Nanjing-based company carrying out "all development and regulatory activities required to obtain market approval in China".

The companies said they will co-market Orencia SC in China and share profits and losses from the product, although other financial details were not disclosed.

Orencia SC is already on the market in the US, Europe and Japan, and is one of BMS' fastest-growing products, bringing in sales of $1.17bn in 2012. The product managed a rise of 29 per cent over 2011 sales, thanks largely to the roll out of the SC formulation in place of an older intravenous version of the drug.

BMS is embarking on a multi-pronged growth drive as it tries to capture market share from the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor class headed by AbbVie's $9.3bn blockbuster Humira (adalimumab).

One facet of that growth drive relies on rolling out Orencia quickly in emerging pharma markets, and China is a key target thanks to its rapidly-growing economic power, huge patient population and relatively cheap product development costs. If approved, Orencia would become BMS' first biologic on the Chinese market.

BMS and Simcere opened their strategic alliance in 2010 with an agreement to co-develop MET/VEGFR-2 inhibitor BMS-817378 as a cancer treatment, with Simcere gaining exclusive rights to sell the drug in China and BMS retaining rights elsewhere.

The two companies expanded the collaboration the following year to include BMS-795311, a small molecule inhibitor of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), which will be co-developed by the two partners with Simcere once again claiming Chinese marketing rights.

Simcere's chief executive Hongquan Liu said the company wants to pursue other co-development and commercialisation with foreign pharma companies.

"We will continue to execute on our partnering strategy and to bring in more late-stage programmes and products already approved outside of China, to complement our R&D pipeline and strengthen our in-market portfolio," he added.

17th June 2013

From: Sales

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