When Pfizer acquired drugmaker Hospira in August 2015, the European Commission (EC) laid down conditions which included the Big Pharma firm having to divest its Phase III infliximab biosimilar candidate.
A number of companies – including Fresenius Kabi, Teva, Hikma, and Mylan – had been rumoured to be interested, but last week Novartis subsidiary Sandoz announced it had beaten off competition and acquired the rights to PF-06438179 in the European Economic Area (EEA).
“We intend to complete the development and registration of PF-06438179 and make it available to patients across Europe as part of our robust portfolio of immunology treatments,” said Richard Francis, Global Head of Sandoz
Sandoz has versions of human growth hormone, G-CSF and epoetin alfa already approved in Europe and other markets, and a number of monoclonal antibody (mAb) biosimilars in its pipeline.
Hospira became the first company to launch a version of J&J’s Remicade in Europe when Inflectra was introduced across a number of major EU markets in February 2015. Development partner Celltrion has also launched its infliximab biosimilar, Remsima, across a number of European markets.
The $17bn acquisition had left the EC with concerns Pfizer might delay or discontinue development of its own infliximab in order to focus on Hospira’s Inflectra, leading to an uncompetitive market. The EC was also concerned Pfizer might hand Hospira’s infliximab back to developer Celltrion, leading to loss of current price competition between Hospira and Celltrion
Pfizer retains rights to its biosimilar candidate outside the European Economic Area (EEA).