Global Markets

J&J keeping Remicade biosimilars at bay through price drops

Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade continues to hold 92% of the market by volume three years since infliximab biosimilars arrived in the US. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) opened the first quarter 2019 reporting season this week by announcing an 8% year-on-year growth in its pharmaceutical’s division to $10.2 billion (€9 billion). For its immunosuppressive monoclonal antibody Remicade (infliximab), US sales – representing 70% of global sales for the firm – fell 15.5% compared to the same period last year, to $774…

Shareholders’ nod puts $74bn BMS Celgene merger back on track

Over 75% of Bristol-Myers Squibb shareholders voted in favor of the proposed megamerger with Celgene despite warnings from certain investor groups. In January, Big Pharma firm Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced its intentions to get bigger through the acquisition of its immune-oncology partner Celgene. The $74 billion (€65 billion), if it goes through, will be the largest ever merger in the biopharma space and create what Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio described as “the number one oncology franchise.” The deal is on track…

World’s first Soliris biosimilar launched in Russia

Russian biopharma Generium has launched Elizaria, a biosimilar version of Alexion’s Soliris (eculizumab) developed using the SUREtechnology Platform from Selexis. Approved for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), Soliris (eculizumab) pulled in $3.6 billion (€3.2 billion) in global sales for Alexion Pharmaceuticals in 2018. While Alexion is confident its IP will restrict direct competition in the US and Europe potentially up until 2027, the first biosimilar has been approved and launched in Russia in…

Quality FBS, or just BS? Industry turning to supply chain certification

Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is the gold standard for growth media but poor quality and counterfeit product pose risks to manufacturing and the patient. Traceability audits and origin determination test can overcome these, says the ISIA. FBS has been used as a culture supplement for the past 65 years and is unlikely to be rivalled in its growth promoting capabilities for some time, Brian Lewis, a representative from the International Serum Industry Association (ISIA) and president of BL Consulting, told…

Biocon: One eye on biologics IPO to support blossoming biosimilars

Managing director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has told Indian news outlets Biocon could spin-out its biologics division to raise funds for further biosimilar development. Biocon is Indian’s largest pharmaceutical firm with a portfolio of small molecule and branded formulation products. But the Indian drugmaker has also begun to make its mark on the international biosimilars market with commercialization partner Mylan launching various products in both the US and European markets. Ogivri became the first biosimilar of Roche’s Herceptin (trastuzumab) to be approved…

AbbVie slashes 178 Stemcentrx jobs in California

AbbVie will reduce the workforce at a facility run by its acquisition Stemcentrx months after halting enrollment a Phase III trial for lead candidate Rova-T. In 2016, AbbVie acquired Stemcentrx for approximately $5.8 billion (€5.2 billion), bolstering its oncology pipeline with the addition of late-stage asset rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) in trials for small cell lung cancer (SCLC). But this month, AbbVie announced plans to cut jobs at Stemcentrx site in South San Francisco through a Californian Worker Adjustment and Retraining…

Thermo Fisher going viral in $1.7bn Brammer Bio buy

Thermo Fisher has broadened its CDMO interest by agreeing to acquire viral vector firm Brammer Bio. The deal brings Brammer access to a broad portfolio of gene therapy technologies and consumables. This morning bioprocess giant Thermo Fisher made good on the recent rumors of a major acquisition by agreeing to buy contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Brammer Bio for $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) in cash from Ampersand Capital Partners. Formed through the merger of Brammer Biopharmaceuticals and Florida Biologix…

Breaking the Big 4: How Takeda is taking on vaccines

While vaccines will continue to be dominated by GSK, Merck, Pfizer, and Sanofi, manufacturing and collaborations can help to unblock this consolidated industry says recent entrant Takeda. Rahul Singhyi, COO of Takeda vaccines, told delegates at the BPI West event in Santa Clara, California that vaccines used to be viewed as “the backwaters of the pharma industry, largely considered part of corporate social responsibility,” but that has changed over the past 20 years due to innovations and approvals in disease…

German Merck eyes membrane plant within €2bn investment

Merck KGaA has pledged to double the investment in its Darmstadt, Germany site to support numerous manufacturing, R&D and infrastructure projects. In 2015, Merck announced plans to invest €1 billion ($1.1 billion) over five-years at Darmstadt, the location of its global headquarters and a major biomanufacturing hub for the Big Pharma firm. Four years later and the firm says it is doubling down on its investment, spending a further €1 billion until 2025 to support various projects at Darmstadt and…

Genentech on tech transfer: ‘Small volumes are all a bit new to us’

Genentech says it is looking to disruptive technologies for a fast and agile response to capacity demands as its portfolio evolves away from large volume biologics. At BPI West in Santa Clara last week, Eric Fallon, senior director of Pharma Technical Innovation of Technology & MSAT at Genentech, spoke about the difficulties in driving performance and carrying out tech transfers within its large global manufacturing network. “Our manufacturing infrastructure is built around large, economies of scale, facilities. They can be…