Sanofi is joining the biosimilars trend to challenge Roche’s best-selling biological with a partnership that aims to take over the Chinese cancer market.
Sanofi is going after the €6.8B ($7.3B) that Roche’s Rituxan/MabThera (rituximab), the second top-selling biological, made last year in revenues. The French pharma has signed a deal worth up to €219M ($236M) with Taiwan’s JHL Biotech for exclusive rights to commercialize its rituximab biosimilar in China.
Sanofi will make an upfront payment of €19M ($21M), invest €74M ($80M) in JHL shares and take charge of commercialization in China. By providing a price discount in the 20-30% range, a biosimilar of Roche’s blockbuster could take a big chunk out of leukemia, lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis markets in China.
In Europe and the US, however, Novartis’ Sandoz has taken the lead and is already under review for FDA and EMA approval for its rituximab biosimilar. Amgen and Pfizer also have their own versions in clinical development, so the competition will be strong.