Merck acquires biosimilars in $130M pact

Merck signaled its clear intent to get aggressive about the biosimilar business with this morning's announcement that the pharma giant is buying Insmed's portfolio of follow-on biologics for $130 million in cash. Merck's BioInvest will take over the development of INS-19 and INS-20, both intended to mimic existing biologics that prevent infections in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. INS-19 is in late-stage trials while INS-20 is in early-stage development.

In what may become a pattern for similar deals, Merck is paying $10 million down and the other $120 million when the deal closes. There are no milestones in the deal. Merck is also buying a 50,000-square foot manufacturing facility in Boulder, CO in the pact. Insmed, meanwhile, plans to continue to develop its protein therapies.

"Insmed's pipeline of follow-on biologic candidates presents the opportunity to expedite Merck's entry into the biologics marketplace as well as providing unique manufacturing resources and an experienced team of protein experts," said Frank K. Clyburn, senior vice president and general manager Merck BioVentures. "This agreement represents a strong strategic fit for Merck as we aggressively expand and advance our portfolio of developmental follow-on biologics."

Like other pharma companies, Merck has opted to get aggressive about developing follow-on therapeutics. Unlike traditional small molecules, there is no regulatory pathway established in the U.S. to develop biosimilars. But lawmakers have signaled their intent to take on the issue this year. And with big pharma companies jumping into the game, BIO may find itself up against some heavyweight lobbying efforts in Congress.

- check out the Merck release
-  read the AP report

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