Under the agreement, Russian firm Biocad will transfer drug substances for its biosimilar versions of Roche’s Rituximab/Mabthera (rituximab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) – indicated to treat autoimmune diseases and some cancers – to Sothema’s 11,000m² facility in Casablanca.
The products will undergo fill & finish at the Moroccan manufacturing plant, which Biocad said is the nation’s first facility dedicated entirely to the production of injectable products.
North African biosimilars
Following commercial release in Morocco, Sothema plans to market the drugs in Senegal, Gabon and the Cote d’Ivoire.
North Africa lacks experience in large molecule drugs, said Biocad spokesperson Irina Kenyukhova .
“North African nations just started allowing mAb oncology biosimilars to its pharmaceutical markets a couple of years ago,” she told us.
However as patented biologics lose their exclusivity, Kenyukhova said she hopes they will become more available to less affluent patients outside the US and Europe.
According to Kenyukhova , a lack of support from reference drugmakers can hinder the adoption of biosimilars made outside of the European Union (EU).
“There is no denial that biosimilars have a great, positive impact on pharmacoeconomics, showing rapid price reductions as the originator’s monopolies cease to exist,” she said.
“Naturally, the makers of the original, high-value products feel very protective of the monopolised markets, and go out of their way at all levels to over-exaggerate the potential risks of biosimilar products,” Kenyukhova added.
However, despite these efforts, Kenyukhova said non-EU mAb biosimilars have been successfully made in Norway and “several other Northern European nationals” with “no significant problems.”