Amgen and Watson team on biosimilars but agree to spare Amgen's drugs

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Biogen idec

Amgen and Watson team on biosimilars but agree to spare Amgen's drugs
Amgen has partnered with non-branded drugmaker Watson to develop biosimilar cancer drugs in a deal that goes some way towards protecting its own portfolio from generic competition.

Under the accord Amgen will be responsible for developing, manufacturing and commercialising biosimilar versions of antibody-based cancer treatments with Watson contributing $400m in development costs and taking charge of marketing and lifecycle management.

Amgen COO Robert Bradway said: "The pairing of Amgen's 30 years of experience in biologics together with Watson's substantial generics and specialty pharmaceutical experience and complementary commercial and distribution capabilities provides great potential for worldwide patient access to high quality oncology biosimilar medicines​."

Watson first signalled its intention to build in biosimilars in 2010 with the acquisition of UK-based contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) Eden Biodesign​.

Biosimilars partnerships

The Amgen and Watson accord is the third major biosimilars-focused partnership established in recent months behind Samsung Biologics’ deal with Biogen Idec​ and Dong-A agreement Meiji Seika​.

These investments– as well as others by companies whose core activities are outside the pharma industry like Fujifilm and Mitsubishi​ – underline the potential for profit the biosimilar market holds.

However, the agreement also appear to afford the innovative partner a degree of protection from generic competition.

In a press statement released yesterday Amgen and Watson said: "The collaboration will not pursue biosimilars of Amgen's proprietary products​."

This policy - which is presumably designed to limit the damage non-branded competition has Amgen's market share - is identical to the approach that Samsung is taking under its agreement with Biogen Idec​.

It is unclear if Watson is permitted to develop biosimilar versions of Amgen drugs independently. Neither firm responded to's request for additional information ahead of publication.

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