One in the eye for Pfenex? Pfizer abandons Lucentis biosimilar programme

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/Vladimir Arndt
Image: iStock/Vladimir Arndt

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies Macular degeneration Pfizer

Pfizer has terminated its partnership with Pfenex to develop a biosimilar version of Roche’s age-related vision loss mAb Lucentis (ranibizumab).

In February 2015​, Pfenex partnered with Hospira to develop PF582, its biosimilar candidate to Lucentis a monoclonal antibody fragment to treat ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which brings in around $4bn of revenues for Roche subsidiary Genentech each year.

The same month​, Pfizer announced it was buying Hospira for $17bn in a deal that was completed last September.

Pfenex previously told this publication it expected to benefit from the Big Pharma’s economic clout but on Friday the firm received news that Pfizer was pulling-out of the programme, handing all rights to PF582 back to Pfenex.

“As part of strategic review of our current biosimilar pipeline, Pfizer has decided to terminate our collaboration agreement for the rights, assets and technology for biosimilar candidate ranibizumab to focus on other assets,”​ a Pfizer spokesperson told in an email.

Pfenex did not respond when contacted, but during a conference call yesterday CEO Bert Liang reiterated Pfizer’s position and added.

“[Pfizer] had a strategic review with regards to the therapeutic area they’re interested in being in, and one of the areas they decided they were no longer to be into was the same one where PF582 existed,”​ he told stakeholders.

He added the decision had been communicated very late last week and Pfenex is “still evaluating all strategic options going ahead.”

Despite the exit, Pfizer still describes itself as “the leading global biosimilars company”​ with eight other biosimilars in its pipeline, including a version of Janssen’s Remicade (infliximab) – Inflectra - available in Europe and set for launch in the US later this year.

Inflectra was another of a number of biosimilar products and candidates picked up through its acquisition of Hospira. Under conditions of the merger, Pfizer sold its own infliximab candidate PF-06438179 to Novartis offshoot Sandoz in February​.

Related topics Markets & Regulations Biosimilars

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