Fujifilm is the latest corporate giant to announce plans to develop biosimilars or follow-on biologic drugs. Company executives announced November 21 that Fujifilm will form a joint venture next spring with Tokyo-based biotech manufacturer Kyowa Hakko Kirin to develop products for the fast-growing and highly competitive biosimilars market. The agreement calls for launching a clinical trial for a new drug candidate by 2013.
Under the agreement, the partners will focus on developing lower cost therapeutic antibodies for use in oncology, nephrology and immunology.
With lucrative brand-name drugs going off patent and nations demanding medical cost savings for the highly effective, but much more expensive biologics, the biosimilars market is poised to grow rapidly. Novartis, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, Hospira and Teva, the world's largest generic manufacturer, are all heavily involved in biosimilar R&D.
Worldwide spending on biosimilars is expected to exceed $2 billion annually by 2015, according to the IMS Health. That's a huge jump from last year's $311 million in spending.
Pharmas are working on about 300 different monoclonal antibodies for more than 200 different indications, according to IMS Health.
The latest venture merges Fujifilm's production and quality control technology with Kyowa Hakko Kirin's biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing expertise, according to a joint statement.
Fujifilm, the company best known for film and imaging technology, first entered the pharmaceutical market in early 2006 through investment in Perseus Proteomics, a Tokyo-based biotech company. Earlier this year Fujifilm took a bigger leap into the sector with its acquisition of Merck's Biomanufacturing Network, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturing division that serves UK and US customers.