The deal - which will see Baxter pay Coherus $30m (€22.7m) upfront and a further $216m (€164m) if various development goals are met - is focused on creating a copycat version of the drug for the European, Canadian, Brazilian and other non-specified markets.
Baxter spokesman Brian Kyhos told BioPharma Reporter.com that: "This deal supports Baxter’s biotechnology growth and allows the company to expand its biologics pipeline with a partner that brings unique capabilities that support accelerated entry for Baxter in the biosimilars market.
"Under our arrangement, Coherus will conduct development," he continued, adding that "Assuming development goes as planned, Coherus will be responsible for manufacturing."
Enbrel development frenzy
Enbrel was one of the top five selling biologics in 2012 generating global revenue of some $8bn and - unsurprisingly therefore - Baxter and Coherus are not the first to try and develop a copycat.
In 2011 Merck & Co teamed up with South Korea’s Hanwa to create a biosimilar version of Enbrel. However, the deal collapsed a year later after Amgen – which licenses the drug from Roche – was granted a patent extension by the USPTO.
Merck has since joined up with Samsung Bioepis – the biosimilars joint venture Samsung set up with Biogen Idec in 2011 – to develop “multiple pre-specified and undisclosed biosimilar candidates.”
More recently, Indian generics firm Cipla launched a biosimilar version of Enbrel in India. The product – named Etacept – is manufactured by the firm’s Chinese partner Shanghai Guojian Pharmaceutical Co and is sold for 30% less than the innovator drug.
Baxter is not even the only company with which Coherus is trying to create an Enbrel copy. In May last year the firm announced that Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo had agreed to develop a biosimilar version of the drug – as well as a version of Rituxan – for several Asian markets.
Baxter has a track record in biosimilars partnering. In 2011 the firm teamed up with Momenta Pharmaceuticals in a $33m deal covering the development of up to six non-branded biopharmaceuticals.
As of October last year Baxter had selected three candidates: an anticancer monoclonal antibody (MAb) called M511; and compounds called M923 and M834, which are being developed for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
And for Coherus partnering is always part of the plan. The firm’s approach is to help its partners reduce the cost of development by providing access to services and technologies provided by other partners.
Medpace, for example, is Coherus’ clinical development partner while Selexis and Legacy BioDesign provide manufacturing process and formulation development services. The firm also works with an unnamed contract manufacturing organisation (CMO).