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Building on biosimilars
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


SEOUL, Korea & WESTON, Mass. Biogen Idec and Samsung have announced the beginning of a new agreement focused on biosimilars. Under the companies' new agreement, they will invest $300 million towards the establishment of a joint venture to develop, manufacture and market biosimilars. Samsung will hold the leading role in the joint venture, and Biogen Idec will contribute its protein engineering and biologics manufacturing expertise.
"At Samsung, one of our goals is to help patients around the world by increasing the accessibility and affordability of existing medicines," Tae-Han Kim, Ph.D., CEO of Samsung Biologics, said in a press release. "Since many of the world's top-selling drugs are biologics, developing and making high-quality biosimilars is critical to that goal. By combining Biogen Idec's expertise in biologics with our business acumen and proven record of success in new business development, we are taking a significant step toward becoming a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry and investing in an important growth engine for our company."  
Per the terms of the agreement, both companies will provide funding for the joint venture. Samsung will put forward $255 million, gaining an 85 percent stake, and Biogen Idec will put forward $45 million and gain a 15 percent stake. The joint venture will be based in Korea and will contract with Biogen Idec and Samsung Biologics for technical development and manufacturing services. Samsung Biologics, established in April of this year, is a Samsung business formed to specialize in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Biosimilars of Biogen Idec's proprietary products will not be pursued by the joint venture.
In a note on the company's public policy with relation to health care reform, Biogen Idec says that, "We believe biosimilars, follow-on versions of original biological products, have an important role to play in providing high- quality drugs to patients at a lower cost. Moreover, from a business perspective, we expect biosimilars could provide a meaningful future revenue stream for our company, given our large-scale manufacturing capacity."  
Biogen Idec has experience in manufacturing "across a range of biologics from monoclonal antibodies to interferon proteins," as well as "process sciences capability for cell culture and downstream processing," the company website notes. Biogen Idec has facilities dedicated to biological bulk-manufacturing, including its 250,000-square-foot large-scale manufacturing plant in Research Triangle Park, N.C., which has 90,000 liters of bioreactor capacity and is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world.  
"The future of healthcare will continue to be driven by innovation, but it will also be about ensuring patients have access to cost-effective therapies, and biosimilars will play an important role in that," George A. Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Biogen Idec, said in a press release. "This relationship will allow us to leverage our world-class protein engineering and biologics manufacturing capabilities, while maintaining focus on our mission of discovering, developing and delivering innovative therapies for patients worldwide with neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia and autoimmune disorders. We are very impressed with Samsung's track record of leadership and excellence in all their businesses and are excited to be working with them."  
The completion of this agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearance by U.S. and Korean regulators.
Code: E12061101



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