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Insulins access program for young expanded in Dec quarter

Biocon Biologics board has recently approved the merger of Covishield Technologies Private Ltd (CTPL) into Biocon Biologics for Covid-19 vaccines. The company’s India business also reported double-digit growth for the quarter with major contribution from the COVID-19 portfolio. Dr Arun Chandavarkar, Managing Director, Biocon Biologics, in conversation with Business Today spoke about performance of the company’s products in Indian and international market, earnings in the recent quarter and investments. Edited excerpts.

What was the impact from the launch of interchangeable biosimilar Insulin Glargine on your overall sales?
Following the landmark approval of our interchangeable bGlargine, the first-ever such biosimilar approval, by the U.S. FDA, we recorded another milestone this quarter with the commercialisation of this product by our partner Viatris in the U.S. Whilst our business grew on multiple fronts in Q3FY22, there was indeed a significant contribution from developed markets led by supplies of our interchangeable bGlargine to our partner Viatris in the US.

Our interchangeable bGlargine has been listed as the preferred bGlargine brand on the national formularies of two major pharmacy benefit managers in the U.S., Express Scripts & Prime Therapeutics. It is also available through the Prescription Savings Club of Walgreens, the second largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. These developments augur well not only for the future growth of our business but also in our ability to offer people living with diabetes in the U.S. more treatment options, rationalise cost of therapy and generate savings for the overall healthcare system.

Apart from biosimilar insulin Glargine, which of your other products have done well?
Our oncology portfolio led by bTrastuzumab has shown strong growth in many emerging markets. It is the leading biosimilar product in several key countries and has captured significant market shares in Brazil, Indonesia and Algeria.

It continues to be a leading biosimilar trastuzumab in Australia and Canada and has increased market share in key European countries. It continues to maintain a steady market share in the US.

You have spoken of triggering the second phase of your Malaysia insulins manufacturing facility. How much investment is expected in the facility?
Encouraged by the demand for our insulins and in anticipation of new opportunities opening up in terms of product approvals and geographic expansion, we have initiated the expansion of our facility in Malaysia. We expect to invest in a phase-wise manner with the investments being within the overall $100-150 million range for annual capex over three years.

Now that Biocon Biologics board has approved the merger of Covishield Technologies Private Ltd (CTPL) into Biocon Biologics, can you tell us which vaccines are included under the arrangement?
Our strategic alliance with Serum Institute Life Sciences (SILS) brings together two leaders in the biologics space wherein SILS brings in expertise and capacities in vaccines and Biocon Biologics has proven capabilities in monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins. Together, we believe we can address the needs of patients in various infectious diseases, including Covid-19. Biocon Biologics will have access to the entire portfolio of SILS including vaccines already commercialised and the ones in development.

How did your Branded Formulations business in India perform this quarter?
Our Branded Formulations – India business reported double-digit growth for the quarter and the 9MFY22 revenue exceeded the revenue recorded for the full year in FY21. Whilst our Covid portfolio, including Alzumab-L, contributed to our growth in Q1 during the second wave of the pandemic in India, we have performed well across therapeutic divisions last quarter. We continue to strengthen our patient-centric programs and Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) engagement initiatives and have adapted to the new normal wherein digital communications are an important tool. During the quarter, we also expanded our insulins access program to address the needs of young people with Type 1 diabetes in India in collaboration with the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI). Business Today

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