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Pfizer cuts some biosimilar ties with Celltrion after Hospira deal

October 27, 2015
Life sciences

Pfizer, deepening its efforts in biosimilars after trading $17 billion for Hospira, is ditching a few redundant assets partnered with South Korean drugmaker Celltrion, paring down its pipeline as it eyes a growing global market.

The company is returning the rights to in-development copies of Roche’s rheumatoid arthritis treatment Rituxan and breast cancer drug Herceptin. Pfizer already has an in-house Rituxan biosimilar, in Phase III for lymphoma, and a proprietary Herceptin knockoff in late-stage trials.

But Pfizer’s not abandoning Celltrion altogether. Thanks to its Hospira acquisition, closed in September, the drugmaker inherited a Celltrion-partnered Remicade biosimilar already on sale in Europe, plus early-stage knockoffs of Amgen’s Neupogen and Neulasta. Under an agreement with European antitrust regulators, Pfizer has promised to sell off the EU rights to a Remicade biosimilar of its own, which is now in Phase III development.

The Hospira deal also brought in Retacrit, a registration-stage take on Amgen’s Epogen and Procrit, adding to a Pfizer-developed pipeline that includes takes on AbbVie’s Humira and Roche’s Avastin.

The soon-to-boom world of biosimilars was a major factor in Pfizer’s decision to snap up the oft-troubled Hospira, and the company believes copies of top-selling biologics will grow into a $20 billion market by 2020 as more and more treatments lose patent protection.

Novartis, through its Sandoz subsidiary, has led the charge in the U.S., launching the nation’s first biosimilar last month with a version of Neupogen. On its heels are Amgen, Merck, Baxalta and a slew of others hoping to offset their own patent losses with biosimilars that snatch revenue from their rivals.

By Damian Garde

Source: Fierce Biotech

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