InVentiv takes aim at blockbusters with biosimilar deal

CRO inVentiv Health is teaming up with Oncobiologics to develop biosimilars of some of world's top-selling treatments, signing up to helm clinical trials and help get the knockoffs on the market.

Neither company disclosed financial details, but they plan to get started on Humira, Rituxan, Avastin, Herceptin and Erbitux, a who's-who of biologics that have generated a combined $40 billion around the globe, the pair said. Under the deal, inVentiv will take care of studies and bioanalytics, and, once the biosimilars are up for sale, the two will broaden the deal to make use of the CRO's commercialization network.

If all goes well, Oncobiologics may ask inVentiv to pitch in on the development of some innovative molecules, the drugmaker said. 

Oncobiologics CEO Pankaj Mohan

When the company surveyed the CRO world, inVentiv was among few players diverse enough to support an end-to-end biologics partnership, Oncobiologics CEO Pankaj Mohan said, ideal for its goal of going from formulation to commercialization without stretching too thin.

"inVentiv is able to take the scope of these agreements to a much broader level by working across the full development life cycle of each biosimilar and innovator product while preparing for a successful market launch," Mohan said in a statement. "With their willingness to share in the risk/reward of our development programs, our firms are a perfect fit, both technically and culturally."

And that willingness is perhaps of the utmost importance in this deal. Most of the world's largest CROs can handle discovery through commercialization, but risk-sharing deals are still rare. Quintiles ($Q) has signed a deep-seeded R&D deal with Merck Serono, and WuXi PharmaTech ($WX) is in a similar burden-sharing arrangement with Ambrx, but many CROs still prefer to keep things orderly and transactional.

But inVentiv sees itself less as a contractor than a charter member of Oncobiologics' "highly capable biosimilars consortium," company President Ray Hill said.

"By joining (Oncobiologics') fully-integrated CMC capabilities with inVentiv's broad clinical and commercial expertise, we are creating a venture that is truly greater than the sum of its parts," Hill said in a statement.

- read the announcement

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