The plan is to establish a co-owned development and manufacturing organisation in South Korea that will use Biogen’s capabilities in protein design and production and Samsung’s investment clout to develop biosimilar versions of marketed biologic drug products.
Tae-Han Kim, CEO of Samsung Biologics, set out the rational for the deal, explaining that: "Since many of the world's top-selling drugs are biologics, developing and making high-quality biosimilars is critical to that goal.
“By combining Biogen Idec's expertise in biologics with our business acumen and proven record of success in new business development, we are taking a significant step toward becoming a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry and investing in an important growth engine for our company."
According to Samsung the new entity – ownership of which will be split 85:15 in Samsung’s favour - “will not pursue biosimilars of Biogen Idec’s proprietary products.”
This differs somewhat from comments Kim made earlier this year when he told Bloomberg of Samsung Biologics' plans to start producing a biosimilar version of Rituxan – an anticancer MAb treatment that Biogen sells with Genentech in the US – sometime in 2016.
Samsung Biologics was founded earlier this year when South Korea’s largest industrial conglomerate partnered with Quintile s in the first phase of a $1.9bn plan to diversify its electronics-based business and build in the global healthcare sector.
That agreement – which gave Quintiles a 10 per cent stake in Samsung Biologics – sought to establish a biopharmaceutical-focused contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) with a dedicated production site in the Incheon Free Economic Zone in Songdo, Incheon by 2013.
At the time Samsung said the plant – work on which began in May - will feature a 30,000 liter mammalian cell culture bioreactor that is capable of producing 600kgs of biopharmaceutical products. The products are expected to be sold mostly on international markets.
Quintiles was unable to respond to Outsourcing-pharma.com’s request for additional information about its likely role in the new Samsung Biologics-Biogen Idec collaboration ahead of publication.