Amgen and Watson announce collaboration for biosimilars

December 20, 2011 10:38 AM

Amgen and Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced yesterday that they will collaborate to develop and commercialize, on a worldwide basis, several oncology antibody biosimilar medicines.

This collaboration reflects the shared belief that the development and commercialization of biosimilar products will not follow a pure brand or generic model, and will require significant expertise, infrastructure, and investment to ensure safe, reliably supplied therapies for patients.

Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen will assume primary responsibility for developing, manufacturing and initially commercializing the oncology antibody products.  Watson will contribute up to $400 million in co-development costs over the course of development, including the provision of development support, and will share product development risks.

In addition, Watson will contribute its significant expertise in the commercialization and marketing of products in highly competitive specialty and generic markets, including to help effectively manage the lifecycle of the biosimilar products. The collaboration products are expected to be sold under a joint Amgen/Watson label.  Watson will initially receive royalties and sales milestones from product revenues. The collaboration will not pursue biosimilars of Amgen’s proprietary products.

“The pairing of Amgen’s 30 years of experience in biologics together with Watson’s substantial generics and specialty pharmaceutical experience and complementary commercial and distribution capabilities provides great potential for worldwide patient access to high quality oncology biosimilar medicines,” said Robert A. Bradway, president and chief operating officer at Amgen.  “Biosimilars provide an exciting long-term growth opportunity for Amgen.  We have a dedicated team to leverage existing capabilities and capacity and drive the success of the collaboration.”

“This collaboration places Amgen and Watson in an unparalleled position in the global biosimilars market by capitalizing on best-in-class capabilities in both innovative biologics and specialty pharmaceuticals and generics,” said Paul Bisaro, president and chief executive officer at Watson. “Forging this collaboration delivers on the Watson promise to be a leader in the field of biosimilars, and does so in a way that helps manage the substantial financial investment, operational capabilities and broad commercial skills required to bring safe, high-quality and cost-effective biosimilar therapies to patients.  We believe that biosimilars are the next frontier in the evolution of the healthcare market, and we are prepared to bring all of our resources to bear in this collaboration to ensure this partnership can most effectively compete in the biosimilar space, and thereby generate significant long-term value for our respective shareholders.”

Editor’s comment: Is anyone surprised? We hope no because it was clear that Amgen, world’s number 2 in biopharmaceuticals  would jump to this bandwagon sooner or later.  Roche (and Genentech), the world leader, still insists on its position and has no interest in biosimilars area. We will all wait and see…

Source: Watson Pharmaceuticals press release

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