Amgen chases $3bn biosimilar market with three new programs, biomanufacturing capabilities

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Amgen doubles down on biosimilars with new manufacturing capacity, development programs
Amgen doubles down on biosimilars with new manufacturing capacity, development programs

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies

Despite plans to lay off more than 2,000 employees, Amgen is preparing for a biosimilar onslaught and expanding its portfolio to nine biosimilar programs.

The announcement from Tuesday on the development of three new unnamed biosimilar programs comes as the company beat analyst expectations for the quarter and as it promised to significantly restructure, with an approximate 23% decrease in facilities footprint and an approximate 20% reduction in staff by the end of 2015. 

The 23% cut in manufacturing facilities was first announced in July​, when the company announced it would shutter its Washington and Colorado sites, and cut back at its California site.

Scott Foraker, vice president and general manager, Biosimilars, at Amgen, discussed how biosimilars are a good strategic fit for the company and represent a compelling growth opportunity with the potential to deliver more than $3bn in annual revenues.  In addition to the biosimilars adilimumab, trastuzumab, bevacizumab, infliximab, rituximab and cetuximab programs, Amgen says it has initiated three additional biosimilar programs.  

Foraker added that Amgen's biosimilar infliximab and rituximab are preparing for clinical trials.  Amgen's first biosimilar is expected to launch in 2017, followed by four others through 2019.

Meanwhile, the company is also studying the impact of switching to the biosimilar of its chronic kidney disease drug Aranesp.

New Biomanufacturing Capacity

With new developments in biosimilars, Amgen is also looking to ramp up its biomanufacturing capabilities, which the company believes will significantly cut costs.

Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO, affirmed Amgen is on track to produce commercial products from its new Singapore next-generation biomanufacturing facility beginning in 2017. 

Next-generation biomanufacturing will enable increased bulk production capabilities versus conventional alternatives at one-quarter of the capital costs, one-third of the operating expense, and twice the speed, the company said. It also estimates these new capabilities will result in an estimated cost reduction of 60% or more per gram of protein.

The $200m facility​ will initially focus on expanding Amgen’s capability to manufacture monoclonal antibodies with new technology and innovation. Once completed, the facility will be fully reconfigurable, Amgen claims.

Foraker described how Amgen's decades of proven biologics R&D experience, strong biologics manufacturing heritage, track record for high quality and reliable supply, and branded commercial capabilities provide a significant competitive advantage.

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