Current Edition

Another Samsung Bioepis? Biocon, Viatris mull merging biosimilar businesses

Samsung Bioepis represents the marriage of an Asian company and a Western drugmaker with a focus on biosimilars. Now, two other players are reportedly considering a similar merger.

Biocon and Viatris are in advanced talks to combine their already deeply entangled biosimilar businesses, Indian financial news site Moneycontrol reported, citing sources with direct knowledge of the discussion.

The two companies are already collaborating on several biosimilar projects, including the recent historic launch of Semglee, which references Sanofi’s insulin Lantus, as the first interchangeable biosimilar in the U.S. Aside from Semglee, the companies have partnered on biosimilars to AbbVie’s Humira, Roche’s Herceptin and Avastin, Amgen’s Neulasta, and more.

Biocon has previously touted the different strengths of the two companies. In their existing partnership, the Indian company contributes its manufacturing and biologics development capabilities, while Viatris leverages its regulatory strategy and commercialization presence, Biocon has said.

The Indian biosim player is considering buying out Viatris’ stake and listing it as a standalone company that could be valued at $10 billion, the sources told Moneycontrol.

Biocon’s biosimilar unit has attracted several rounds of investment lately. Those include a $150 million injection from Goldman Sachs last November and $75 million from ADQ in January. In September, the Indian company offered 15% of its stake to a Serum Institute of India subsidiary in exchange for access to 100 million doses of various vaccines annually for 15 years, including COVID-19 shots. At that time, Biocon Biologics was valued at about $4.9 billion.

For its part, Viatris’ portfolio of biosimilars remains a relatively small part of its overall business. Complex generics and biosimilars grew sales by 2% at constant currencies to $994 million in the first nine months of 2021, making up 7.4% of the company’s entire haul during the period.

The biosimilar market is growing increasingly competitive, with several major players including Biogen, Pfizer, Novartis’ Sandoz and Amgen vying for market share. But some large drugmakers appear to be distancing themselves from biosimilars. Merck & Co. has recently spun off its biosimilar portfolio together with its women’s health franchise and established medicines into Organon. And Novartis just launched a strategic review of Sandoz.

Viatris is expected to hold an investor event on Jan. 7, 2022 to lay out its strategic blueprint for 2022 and beyond.