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Boehringer lines up biosimilars of major drugs

Prospects include copies of Humira, Avastin and MabThera
Boehringer Ingelheim headquarters

Boehringer Ingelheim plans to make biosimilar versions of the drugs Humira, Avastin and MabThera/Rituxan as part of its ambitions in biopharmaceuticals.

Speaking to journalists at the company's annual conference in Germany, chairman Andreas Barner confirmed that all these compounds are in advanced stages of development, demonstrating Boehringer's commitment to the growing biosimilars market.

“We see biosimilars as a future growth field,” said Barner. “Based on our know-how in product development, production and clinical development, we will in future be able to offer biosimilars of the highest quality.”

The company's most advanced biosimilar so far is a version of Sanofi's insulin Lantus, which is being developed in partnership with Lilly and is currently undergoing regulatory review in Europe with a view to launch some point this year in the region. A US launch is planned to follow in 2015.

Boehringer has set its sights high with the drugs it plans to produce biosimilar equivalents, with Lantus, Humira, Avastin and MabThera/Rituxan all featuring in the top 10 biggest selling prescription drugs of 2013.

Humira (adalimumab), marketed by AbbVie, is top of the pile, and is approved in a number of indications, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn's disease. It is due to lose patent protection in 2016, however, allowing biosimilar copies to hit the market.

Avastin (bevacizumab) and MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) are cancer drugs marketed by Roche. MabThera's patents are expected to expire in the next couple of years, while Avastin is set to lost protection in the US in 2019 and the EU in 2022.

By developing biosimilar versions of these two drugs, Boehringer is also boosting its oncology business – a recent venture from the company which saw its first approval last year with Giotrif/Gilotrif in lung cancer.

Article by
Thomas Meek

17th April 2014

From: Research, Sales

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