Pfizer cuts some biosimilar ties with Celltrion after its $17B Hospira deal

Pfizer ($PFE), deepening its efforts in biosimilars after trading $17 billion for Hospira, is ditching a few redundant assets partnered with South Korean drugmaker Celltrion, paring down its pipeline as it eyes a growing global market.

The company is returning the rights to in-development copies of Roche's ($RHHBY) rheumatoid arthritis treatment Rituxan and breast cancer drug Herceptin. Pfizer already has an in-house Rituxan biosimilar, in Phase III for lymphoma, and a proprietary Herceptin knockoff in late-stage trials.

But Pfizer's not abandoning Celltrion altogether. Thanks to its Hospira acquisition, closed in September, the drugmaker inherited a Celltrion-partnered Remicade biosimilar already on sale in Europe, plus early-stage knockoffs of Amgen's ($AMGN) Neupogen and Neulasta. Under an agreement with European antitrust regulators, Pfizer has promised to sell off the EU rights to a Remicade biosimilar of its own, which is now in Phase III development.

The Hospira deal also brought in Retacrit, a registration-stage take on Amgen's Epogen and Procrit, adding to a Pfizer-developed pipeline that includes takes on AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira and Roche's Avastin.

The soon-to-boom world of biosimilars was a major factor in Pfizer's decision to snap up the oft-troubled Hospira, and the company believes copies of top-selling biologics will grow into a $20 billion market by 2020 as more and more treatments lose patent protection.

Novartis ($NVS), through its Sandoz subsidiary, has led the charge in the U.S., launching the nation's first biosimilar last month with a version of Neupogen. On its heels are Amgen, Merck ($MRK), Baxalta ($BXLT) and a slew of others hoping to offset their own patent losses with biosimilars that snatch revenue from their rivals.

- read the statement

Suggested Articles

Fifteen of the 22 patients in a gene therapy trial no longer needed transfusions, while the remainder needed fewer transfusions.

Argos Therapeutics is ending its kidney cancer trial and mulling options, including a merger or sale, to stay alive.

CNS Pharma says berubicin is the first anthracycline drug to cross the blood-brain barrier and could transform treatment of the highly invasive brain tumor.