Cash-strapped Epirus to sell CHO platform and biosimilar IP to Polpharma for $3.5m

By Dan Stanton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/Palto
Image: iStock/Palto
As part of a cost-savings restructure, Epirus is selling the assets from its $14m acquisition of Bioceros last September to its biosimilars partner Polpharma.

Last year​, Epirus Biopharmaceuticals paid $14m (€12.5m) for Netherlands-based Bioceros Holding BV, adding three biosimilar candidates and a proprietary Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) platform (CHO) for the manufacture of monoclonal antibodies.

But nine months later, the firm has announced in an SEC filing​ it is selling the Dutch subsidiary, including the “CHOBC​ cell line platform, all related intellectual property rights, a fully equipped laboratory and bioreactor capabilities”​ to its biosimilar development partner Polpharma for $3.5m.

The firm will retain exclusive rights to develop BOW080 and BOW070 – intended copycat versions of Alexion’s Soliris (eculizumab) and Chugai/Roche’s Actemra (tocilizumab), respectively – and said:

“With this sale of Epirus Netherlands, the Company will continue to pursue its restructuring efforts, including the possible creation of a separate company focused on rare disease biological product opportunities.”

The announcement comes a month after Epirus announced a “reprioritisation of the company's pipeline,” ​which included suspending development of its BOW015 programme, which the firm had once touted​ to take a large slice of the $3bn infliximab market.

This decision was based on cost-savings and not due to technical reasons, the firm said in a filing in May​, and was accompanied with plans to reduce the workforce by 40%. Epirus also said that with these measures it still only had “sufficient cash resources to continue its operations through the second quarter of 2016.”

Polpharma

The beneficiary of the sale, Polpharma, has been working with Epirus since July 2015​ when the two firms struck a development and commercialisation agreement for a number of biosimilar products.

Traditionally a generics maker, Polpharma has been expanding its biologics divison and last year received a €45m loan​ from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund further biosimilar development and improve access to medicines in Europe.

A spokesperson from the Poland-based company was unable to comment on the Epirus acquisition telling Biopharma-Reporter.com the firm is still working on the details of the deal, expected to close next week.

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