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Pfizer ends insulin biosimilars deal with Biocon

Leaves India-based biotech without major global partner

Pfizer has ended its deal with India-based Biocon to commercialise biosimilar versions of several insulin products.

The companies' 2010 alliance was worth up to $350m, including an upfront payment of $200m, and covered Biocon's biosimilar versions of Sanofi's Lantus, Novo Nordisk's Novolog and Eli Lilly & Company's Lispro.

However, the companies have now decided that “due to the individual priorities for their respective biosimilars businesses, it is in their best interest to move forward independently”.

All rights licensed to Pfizer as part of the original agreement will revert to Biocon. This includes all insulins marketed as Univia and Glarvia, which will now be manufactured, supplied and marketed by Biocon only.

The move leaves Biocon without a significant partner to help distribute the biosimilars in the highly regulated US and European markets, with Bino Pathiparampil from Mumbai-based analysts IIFL told Reuters that the end of the deal is “definitely negative for Biocon's insulin sales”.

After signing the alliance with Pfizer Biocon took the decision to end its existing collaborations in European countries, including selling its majority stake in German company AxiCorp in April 2011.

At the time, Biocon said “it didn't need the company's services to sell Biocon's insulin products in the European nation after an alliance with the world's biggest drug maker Pfizer”.

However, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chair and managing director of Biocon said the company is remains committed to delivering its insulin portfolio to a global market.

“Biocon will continue to work with its existing partners in several markets and will pursue a commercial strategy on its own and through new alliances in other markets,” she said.

Pfizer also confirmed its own commitment to non-insulin biosimilars, and its general manager of biosimilars Diem Nguyen said biosimilar monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins products were in development, both internally and through collaborations.

14th March 2012

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