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Cipla plans push into biosimilars

Published on 10/09/09 at 03:23pm

Mumbai-based generics manufacturer Cipla is to begin making biosimilars, generic substitutable versions of branded biologic drugs.

It plans to do this as part of a joint venture with an unnamed Chinese company, according to media reports.

Indian newspaper Business Standard says the joint venture will be based in India and quotes a Cipla spokesman as saying the company "is in the process of signing" the agreement.

No announcement has been made on how much money the firm is spending on the venture, but the report says medicines from it are expected to be made available to the Indian market from next year.

The companies also apparently plan to manufacture and market drugs overseas - presumably aiming at the biggest generics markets, the US and Europe.

Cipla has been down the joint venture route before, signing a biopharma tie-up with Bangalore-based Avesta Biotherapeutics & Research a couple of years ago.

Cipla manufactured the world's first fixed dose combination formulation of antiretroviral drugs to combat Aids, even going so far as to put a patent on it, with the brand name Triomune.

The company fields a range of products, from Alzheimer's drugs to urinary muscle relaxants, and has so far seemed content to pursue a generics-only business model.

Rival Indian generics manufacturers such as Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddy's have acquired a reputation for aggressively challenging patents on the sector's biggest blockbusters.

But some Indian companies are broadening to include research and development, as evidenced by Aurobindo's collaboration with Pfizer.

And a year ago Ranbaxy allowed Daiichi-Sankyo a $2.8 billion controlling stake in its business.

However, Ranbaxy's reputation was rocked last September when the Food and Drug Administration found fault with its manufacturing processes and suspended the company's licence to export 30 products to the US.

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