Amgen and Watson Pharmaceuticals Announce Cancer Biosimilars Agreement

Amgen, an US biotech major, is partnering with Watson Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialise several oncology antibody biosimilars.

The new partners commented that the partnership “reflects the shared belief that the development and commercialisation 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”.  They also noted that the collaboration will not make biosimilars of Amgen’s proprietary biologic blockbusters such as the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Enbrel (etanercept) or the anaemia treatments Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) and Epogen (epoetin alfa).

Within the terms of the agreement, Amgen will assume principal responsibility for developing, manufacturing and initially commercialising the products, while Watson Pharmaceuticals will put in up to $400 million in co-development costs and will share product development risks.

Watson will also contribute their expertise in the commercialisation and marketing of products in highly competitive specialty and generic markets, including helping to manage the lifecycle of the biosimilar products. Biosimilars from the collaboration are expected to be sold under a combined label.

Robert Bradway, Amgen’s president and chief operating officer, said “biosimilars provide an exciting long-term growth opportunity”, while his counterpart at Watson, Paul Bisaro  added that the collaboration places the organisations in “an unparalleled position in the global biosimilars market by capitalising on best-in-class capabilities in both innovative biologics and specialty pharmaceuticals and generics”.

Bisaro concluded by adding that “we believe that biosimilars are the next frontier in the evolution of the healthcare market”.


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