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Aurobindo Phama bets big on biosimilar business

Aurobindo Pharma is ramping up its biosimilars operations, a segment many pharma companies are tapping for better returns. The company is working on five products which have a combined market size in excess of $20 billion. It has a portfolio of 14 biosimilars, which include five molecules acquired from TL Biopharmaceuticals AG with the pipeline catering to oncology, rheumatology and ophthalmology segments.

“Right now, we have five products under development, out of which we would be filing the first two products towards the end of this year or early next year. These would be filed for Europe, which has a fixed timeline of 210 days for approval. If everything goes well, in the subsequent year they will be launched. We are also progressing with the ophthalmic product as well, for which we are expecting to start the phase-III clinical trial early next year and subsequently the filing would happen for both the EU and the US. There are three products progressing parallelly,” MD N Govindarajan said in recent earnings call.

The firm has also strengthened its focus on biologics products that go off-patent after 2024. “We believe at least two products from this second wave portfolio will advance to animal toxicity studies in FY21, paving the way for subsequent clinical studies,” the company said in its annual report.

As part of the ramp-up process, the company recently hived off its biosimilars business to its wholly-owned subsidiary, CuraTeQ Biologics, for a cash consideration of Rs 361.46 crore, which includes research and development and manufacturing facilities to its wholly-owned subsidiary. “The whole objective of moving 100% into subsidiary is to have a better focus and review. On a long-term perspective at some point of time, we would like to unlock the value,” Govindarajan said.

“The biosimilar business has a high gestation period and involves high risk, but also promises high returns as some of the biggest selling drugs globally are biologics. The demand for biosimilars has been increasing in recent years as they help in reducing the overall cost of the treatment for a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, kidney failure, diabetes, CVDs, haematological disorders, infectious diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, growth hormone deficiency etc,” according to a pharma analyst. – Financial Express

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