Merck KGaA and Dr. Reddy's partner on a slate of antibody biosims

The emerging biosimilars business demands deep pockets and some major league R&D experience at late-stage studies, which helps explain why Merck KGaA is now partnering with Dr. Reddy's Laboratories on a slate of new antibody programs.

The two big companies plan to split R&D costs as Dr. Reddy's preps new programs in Phase I and Merck KGaA--which is being revamped as its R&D operations at Merck Serono undergoes emergency surgery--takes responsibility for Phase III trials. The companies note that Dr. Reddy's already has four biosimilar drugs under its belt. There's no word yet on exactly which antibodies the two companies will set out to mimic.

The business deal calls for the two companies to co-commercialize in the U.S., sharing any profits they earn. Outside the U.S., Merck KGaA will take the lead, aside from "select emerging markets," which will go to Dr. Reddy's.

The pact resembles a list of deals which have been struck in the past year, including a tie-up between Amgen ($AMGN) and Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI) as well as Samsung and Biogen Idec ($BIIB).

"Sharing know-how, risks and rewards is the right approach to enter the emergent biosimilars market and will be a win-win for both parties," says Stefan Oschmann, the CEO of Merck Serono.

- here's the press release