A report in The Economic Times India has written that, Swiss drug-giant Roche, has signed an agreement with Emcure Pharmaceuticals for its blockbuster biologics drugs Herceptin and MabThera.
“This deal will equip Emcure to manufacture products which are sophisticated monoclonal antibodies. We look at this project as Emcure’s first project with Roche,” said Mukund Ranade, director, Emcure Pharmaceuticals.
“Depending on the success of the same, we hope cooperation would become broad based,” he said. Biologics drugs are highly complicated molecules and require sophisticated manufacturing capabilities.
Emcure will manufacture these drugs for Indian market and depending on the success of this drug it will be taken to other developing countries. Roche is the only company that sells Herceptin and there is no generic substitute for this drug.
These drugs, which are currently under process development, are expected to hit the market by 2013. Emcure though has not revealed if it is a mere contract manufacturing or a voluntary licence deal.
Analysts said this development is interesting because Roche has historically stayed away from striking such deals in India. Instead, it has taken Indian generic makers to court for violation of Intellectual Property Rights, rather than signing any voluntary license deals.
“This deal with Emcure is a smart move by Roche, with this it can deter the entry of other generic companies, and also offer affordable drugs for a country like India,” said Anjan Sen, director, life sciences and healthcare, Deloitte India.
Roche has been under pressure from various health activists and the government for reducing the price of Herceptin, which costs 1 lakh for a single dosage in India. Since the drug is patented, there is no generic substitute making it only available drug for breast cancer patients. This pressure has forced the drug major enter into a contract with a local company, which might lead to fall in prices, said analysts. Big pharma companies across the world have come under pressure to reduce their prices on life saving drugs like cancer and HIV Aids.
“Companies like Roche are facing massive dual pricing pressure, and these deals are a way forward towards addressing those issues,” said an analyst from a consulting firm who has advised Roche in its India strategy.
In the past Emcure had signed licensing deals with US-based biopharma giant Gilead Life Sciences for drugs such as Tenafovir and with Johnson and Johnson for Darunvir, both of which are anti-HIV drugs.
Editor’s comment: An another defense strategy from Roche against biosimilars. This deal will reduce the product costs and will surely lower the prices in India and other supplied countries. Some reports also note that the deal includes Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) but Economic Times India didn’t note about that product.
Source: The Economic Times