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Tag Archives: Follow-On Biologics

Biotech Trends in 2011: Biosimilars

In our original post on biosimilars, Lumira Capital’s Beni Rovinski set out the business opportunities, the technical challenges and the regulatory hurdles facing follow-on biologics in 2009. Since then, as Beni predicted, a series of pharma deals have followed Merck’s Insimed acquisition, and the regulatory framework in North America has been clarified substantially, with final Health Canada guidance having been issued and the the U.S. BCPI Act working its way through the FDA’s rule-making process.

The biosimilars market has also evolved in a couple of unexpected ways: 

  1. Teva decided not to wait for a distinct U.S. biosimilars pathway, and instead submitted a full BLA for Neupoval (which was accepted). Although Neupoval’s approval is now delayed, with the 12-year exclusivity period in the BCPI Act far exceeding similar periods in the EU and Canada, more companies may follow Teva’s approach instead of navigating the U.S. biosimilar regime.
  2. At the JP Morgan conference last week, the CEO’s of Amgen and Biogen Idec, two companies that have been built on innovator biologics, both openly discussed their own plans to produce biosimilars. Although Amgen’s Sharer said the company “should participate in an intelligent way without disturbing the core business,” and was looking to Asian and Latin American markets, Biogen Idec’s Scangos said flatly that “[t]he next decade will be about access and cost as much as it is about innovation,” and that biosimilars are “a low risk way to generate substantial revenue.”

As the regulatory and business environments continue to evolve, we’ll continue to keep an eye on the latest developments.

This post is the fourth in a series briefly outlining the biotech industry trends we’ve been following on the blog and noting some recent developments, plus directions for 2011.

Biotech Trends Update — Biosimilars Blur IP Constituencies: Novartis and Pfizer-Biocon are Featured in the Economist

Two 9-figure announcements this week mark a turning point for the biosimilars market, and one highlights the increasingly important role India plays in innovation.

  1. Pfizer linked up with India’s Biocon in a deal that will see Biocon take the lead in development of four biosimilar insulin products that gives Biocon $200 million up front. Coverage of the deal in the Business Standard highlights the country’s overall strength in biosimilars, which fall midway between new molecule development and small molecule generics in terms of the R&D and manufacturing sophistication required. Biocon cites the deal as proof that India can move up the value chain, doing for biosimilars what it did for generics. This is especially true if they continue to attract backing and partnerships from the Pfizers of the world.
  2. Novartis’ generics unit, Sandoz, reported Q3 revenues of $292 million from a single biosimilar product — enoxaparin, a copy of Sanofi-Aventis’ anticoagulant Lovenox — which is not expected to hit blockbuster status in its own right. As we have noted before, the high level of expertise required to make biosimilars creates a high barrier to entry and contributes to the field’s attractiveness to traditional pharmas (e.g., Pfizer, above) as well as to the major generics players. FierceBiotech notes further growth is expected as the first biosimilar antibodies hit the market in 2014-2015.

The Economist picked up the relevant trends in an article today entitled “Attack of the Biosimilars“:

1) “Innovator” pharmas are moving into the biosimilars business, reversing their recent role as the predominant plaintiffs in IP litigation:

“…it is ironic that the next great opportunity for traditional drugs firms is to do to the biotechnology interlopers exactly what the generics firms have done to them: shred their profit margins with cheaper copies…”

2) India in moving up the innovation value chain, increasing that country’s incentive to protect IP more forcefully:

“And as if to remind the world that new ideas don’t all come from America, it is the Indian firm that will design and manufacture the original drugs; Pfizer will only market them.”

Bottom line: biosimilars are at least as big a business as predicted. This success is another challenge to the concept that pharma’s patent cliff challenge will be met by more in-licensing from small biotechs or by increased R&D spending. Revenue is revenue, and biosimilars are poised to generate lots more of it.

Biotech Trends Update — Biosimilars: FDA Meeting Formally Announced, EMA Working on Rules for (a few) Antibody Biosimilars

Reuters reports that the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has already approved 13 biosimilars, is expecting to publish guidelines in November on biosimilar antibody therapeutics. EMA Executive Director Thomas Lonngren said that clinical trials will be required for antibody biosimilars (as they are for the products EMA has approved to date), but that requirements were likely to be less onerous than in the United States.

Reuters says that the small number of requests (six) received by EMA so far “reflects the difficulties of making such copycat medicines [antibodies]” but with the earliest therapeutic antibodies coming off patent (in Europe) in 2014, I expect these initial inquiries are just the tip of the iceberg. Of couse, biosimilars are hard (as we’ve noted); but a lucrative opportunity of that scale will not go untapped.

Meanwhile, as expected based on the draft notice leaked in September, the FDA is holding public meetings on the implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (i.e., the biosimilars legislation). The full Federal Register notice (pdf) is up, and Mark Sernak at eyeonfda.com has extracted the questions posted for comment.

In addition to a long list of scientific and technical questions, there are a couple of inquiries that I’d highlight from a corporate law perspective:

  1. Which types of related entities may be ineligible for a period of 12-year exclusivity for a subsequent BLA, given the “potential transfer of BLAs from one corporate entity to another and the complexities of corporate and business relationships”; and
  2. Whether the existing fee structure under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) should be considered as a model in establishing a user fee structure for biosimilar applications.

Interested in attending or in submitting a comment? The FDA’s meeting information page is here, and it includes webcast access for November 2 and November 3.

Biotech Trends Update — Biosimilars: FDA Meeting in November to Discuss BCPI Act Implementation

Adam Feuerstein at TheStreet.com reported this morning on a draft FDA notice for a planned November meeting on implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, which was passed as part of the healthcare reform legislation.

The BPCI Act (42 U.S.C. 262(k)(8)) provides for the FDA to author guidance “with respect to the licensure of a biological product” — pretty broad, so we’ll have to stay tuned for the actual meeting notice. However, the legislation provides some hint in permitting “product class-specific guidance” specifying criteria that will be used to determine whether a biological product is highly similar to a reference product in such product class.

If the FDA decides to move ahead with product class guidance, it would likely specify the criteria that will be used to determine whether a biological product meets the standards for “interchangeability”.

In other cases, the FDA may determine that “the science and experience [to date] … with respect to a product or product class … does not allow approval of a [biosimilar] for such product or product class.”

Bottom line: following the FDA’s November meetings, biosimilars will be one step closer in the U.S.

P.S. Adam Feuerstein cites Alec Vachon (@HEALTH_NOTES) on Twitter for breaking the story Friday. Not sure why I haven’t found him before, but Alec is now added to my Biopharma-IT-Health Twitter list.

Biotech Trends at BIO 2010

As I’m preparing for the BIO conference in Chicago next week, I’m excited to see that several of the biotech trends we’ve been following on the blog are showing up as conference sessions.

  • Interested in “A New Kind of Non-Dilutive Financing and Fundraising: Partnering With Not-for-Profits”? Get an early start at our trends page on Commercialization by non-profit foundations!
  • Does “Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Government Role” or “Transforming Health Care Through Personalized Medicine” catch your eye? Check out the stories we’ve highlighted on Comparative Effectiveness and Personalized Medicine!
  • Of course, with the new regulatory pathway created by Health Reform legislation in the U.S., Follow-on Biologics (aka Biosimilars) are all the rage at BIO this year.
  • and the whole thing kicks off with Lilly’s General Counsel speaking on “Leveraging IP to Spur Global Biotechnology Innovation, Investment and Jobs” – emphsizing the link between IP Constituencies and Global Innovation that we have been following for some time.

Stay tuned for news from these and other sessions as we hit the conference next week!

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Subsequent Entry Biologics (aka Biosimilars) get Final Health Canada Guidance, 6 Years of Data Exclusivity

Health Canada released the finalized version of its Guidance Document for “Subsequent Entry Biologics” (SEBs).  The final version is mostly the same as the draft guidance released last March, and actually comes after the approval of Canada’s first SEB last April.

SEBs are a class of drugs that the EU calls “biosimilars” and the U.S. calls “a class of biologics we may recognize one day if health reform passes”“follow-on biologics,” but the gist is that they are copycat versions of existing large-molecule drugs.  Because of their complexity, different versions of the same biologic cannot be characterized as identical.  Hence “similar”.

Regulators are seeking a balance with respect to how much biosimilars can rely on data from the original (“reference”) drug in applying for their own approval, and with respect to how long to protect the reference drug’s data.  Here are some highlights of Health Canada’s approach:

  • A full New Drug Submission required for SEBs, (not an abbreviated submission, as for small-moelcule generics).
  • The data exclusivity period — the time that must elapse before an SEB can use the data from the reference biologic’s application — is 6 years.
  • Studies comparing the reference biologic to the SEB must be conducted in a side-by-side format.

For more information, check out the Ogilvy Renault Pharma in Brief publication, or read the whole Guidance Document.

Biotech Trends Update: Teva’s BLA for Neupoval is Accepted at the FDA

Teva’s decision last year to submit a full biologic license application (BLA) for Neupoval looks positively prescient today.  Teva’s product is already sold in the EU as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Neupogen, but a U.S. biosimilars pathway is stalled along with the rest of health reform and today, the FDA accepted Teva’s BLA, clearing the way for a review of Teva’s clinical data and potentially for approval of the product.

FDA approval isn’t Teva’s only hurdle, though.  Amgen’s U.S. patents on Neupogen don’t expire until 2013, and the two companies are currently litigating the issue of whether Teva’s product infringes those patents.  Furthermore, the Dow Jones article quotes Credit Suisse analyst Michael Aberman who points out that in the EU Teva’s product only has 5% market share, competing against both the original Neupogen and Amgen’s longer-acting Neulasta.

Investors’ reaction? Teva shares were up 1.4 percent, Amgen shares were off minutely.

My bottom line: If you want to read tea-leaves to predict the approach other biosimilar products will take (and I do), watch the Neupoval BLA closely.  The calculus undertaken by other potential market entrants will weigh Teva’s success and costs with this approach against the costs of any Congressional requirement for data exclusivity period and any FDA requirement for clinical trials in an eventual biosimilars regime.

Follow our coverage of North American biosimilars news on this Biotech Trends in 2010 page.

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Trends Update — Biosimilars: The State of Play of U.S. Follow-on Biologics Legislation

With the Senate Finance Committee voting this week in favour of its health reform bill, the legislative process will now move on to an attempt to reconcile the House bill and the two Senate bills in conference.

What does this mean for a biosimilars pathway?  Will there be one?  What will the exclusivity period be?  The Senate Finance bill is silent on the topic, and the two other bills both include a biosimilars pathway with a 12-year exclusivity period.

Twelve years makes the Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) and the National Venture Capital Association pretty happy, but the Obama administration and  the FTC argue in favo(u)r of a much shorter period.

Today, a new opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine generated a lot of buzz, mostly because it argues for a 5-year exclusivity period (but also because it was an odd roll-out for NEJM’s new conflicts disclosure policy).

When the In Vivo Blog polled the question earlier this year, the majority vote was for 10-12 years; but me and some peeps on twitter (hi @InVivoBlogChris and Maureen @FierceBiotech) and in real life (anonymous) thought at the time the number would land under 10 years.  I’m sticking to that bet.

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Trends Update — Biosimilars: Sen. Kennedy, Gov. Dean and NVCA Study all Support 12+ Years of Exclusivity

The debate over the proper data exclusivity period for innovator biologics (as protection against biosimilars/follow-on biologics/subsequent-entry biologics) had a busy week last week.

A couple of thoughts:

  1. The exclusivity period in the EU is 8 years (data) +2 years (marketing) +1 year (for new indications), and the current proposal in Canada is 6 years, so a baseline of 12-14 years’ protection would leave the U.S. system paying for exclusive pricing longer than other major markets.  I’m fine if the U.S. decides to further subsidize pharma innovation, but I’d prefer a more transparent approach with less market distortion; and
  2. It’s hard to balance rationally between data exclusivity and patent exclusivity when the patent system is in significant flux.  Having patent reform as a moving piece (or as part of biosimilars legislation) only muddies the debate.

Update: The WSJ picks these up this morning too.  Here’s the NVCA story, and here’s the one on Kennedy’s efforts and the debate it’s generating in committee.

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Trends Update — Biosimilars: Obama Administration Supports 7-Year Exclusivity Period

The Obama administration offered up a 7-year data exclusivity period for biologics, calling it a “generous compromise” in a letter to Rep. Waxman from Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the Office of Health Reform, and Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, picked up by Bloomberg this week.

I’ve had my money on an 8-10 year period for a while now as the compromise between the competing Waxman and Eshoo-Barton bills … The InVivo Blog has a funny take on how a 10-year period might be injected into the dialogue.

BIO points to a post by Prof. Holman criticising Waxman’s 5-year period (now clearly an outlier) and also the patent challenge/enforcement provisions of Waxman’s bill.

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FTC Weighs In: Favors Compromise on Biosimilars Exclusivity, Disfavors Pay-For-Delay

The FTC released a report today that explores the economics of biosimilars’ market entry and competition.  It predicts that biosimilars will be priced only 10 to 30% under their corresponding pioneer biologics; and that pioneer biologics will retain 70-90% of their market share subsequent to biosimilar market entry. 

Based on these predictions, the FTC concludes that the proposed 12-14 year exclusivity period (here’s looking at you, Eshoo-Barton) is “too long.”  I’m sticking with my guess that we see a compromise from Waxman on the exclusivity period, landing around 8-10 years.

The report also reiterates the FTC’s opposition to pay-for-delay deals and corresponding support for H.R. 1706.

P.S. The InVivo blog says there’s convergence on “biosimilars” over  “generic biologics” and “follow-on biologics” as the nomenclature of choice (presumably “subsequent-entry biologics” loses too), so I’m running with it.

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BIO 2009: Monday Technology Transfer Breakfast

BIO 2009I was at breakfast yesterday morning with university and company members of the BIO Technology Transfer Committee.  Some interesting tidbits, colo(u)red by my preception and commentary and not to be attributed to any other attendees:

P.S. First time here at the Cross-Border Biotech Blog? Welcome! Check out who we are, check out our Trends in 2009 series, or hit the search and navigation tools on your right and see if you see anything interesting.

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Canada’s First Subsequent Entry Biologic!

Guest post from Jill Daley, part of our all-star life sciences team at Ogilvy:

Today, Sandoz Canada announced that Health Canada has granted it a market authorization for Omnitrope™.

This announcement marks the approval of the first subsequent entry biologic (SEB, also known as a “follow-on biologic” (FOB) in the U.S. or a “biosimilar” in the EU) of a previously approved recombinant biotechnology drug by Health Canada.

Omnitrope™ has received similar treatment in the United States and in Europe where it has been approved as a “follow-on protein” and a “biosimilar”  respectively.

Interestingly, today’s announcement came less than one month following Health Canada’s issuance of the Draft Guidance for Sponsors: Information and Submission Requirements for Subsequent Entry Biologics.  The Ogilvy Renault bulletin analyzing the draft guidance is here.

The draft guidance is open to consultation until May 26, 2009. Interested stakeholders are invited to submit written coments via email (BGTD_PPD_DPP@HC-SC.GC.CA), mail or fax (613-952-5364).

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Wednesday Brain Dump: Two of Everything! Edition

Two Camels!  Dolly the cloned sheep, meet Injaz the cloned camel.

Two R&D Heads!  The combined Pfizer-Wyeth will have Mikael Dolsten heading up the newly created BioTherapeutics Research Group and Martin Mackay heading up the small molecule PharmaTherapeutics Research Group.  (Two CapitalLetters!)  The In Vivo Blog has a podcast interviewing both.

Two VA Initiatives!  In addition to the electronic medical records initiative we mentioned earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs is also setting up a large cohort genetic study that will establish a database of genetic information from patients that will be linked to the participants’ electronic health records.  This is great news for personalized medicine because it will ensure that the EHR standard that comes out of the VA project will accomodate and utilize individualized genotypic data.

Two R’s, Two L’s, Two B’s!  G. Steven Burrill (two r’s, two l’s, one b) says he’s confident he can raise $1 billion (there it is!) to develop the Pine Island biotechnology project and a private equity/venture capital fund, which will support development of new technologies out of the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, among others.

Two Guidance…s!  Health Canada issued a finalized version of a Guidance Document on data protection (only applicable to qualifying innovative drugs that received an NOC on or after June 17, 2006) AND a revised version of the draft Guidance Document on Subsequent Entry Biologics, (which includes a 6-year data protection period).  More to come on this.

Two Border Crossings!  Simponi, a biologic developed by Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough, crossed the border Northbound — gaining approval from Health Canada before the FDA; and Molecular Templates Inc. crossed the border Southbound — leaving Ontario for the Texas Life-Sciences Collaboration Center.

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Trends in 2009: Shifting IP Constituencies as Innovator Pharma Buys Generics and Asia Turns to Innovation

Growing industrial and geopolitical realignment of economic interests has the potential to re-define intellectual property constituencies in 2009.

1.  Industrial realignment: the entry of innovator pharma companies into the generics business.

This year has already seen Merck get into follow-on biologics by buying Insimed and Pfizer build its generics business with its Aurobindo deal.  As traditional innovator pharma companies become more invested in follow-on biologics and small molecule generics, they will have a greater (self-)interest in a functioning subsequent entry pathway. 

Watch how this is playing out in the follow-on biologics arena as two competing FOB bills make their way through Congress.  Right now, the 12-year exclusivity period in the Eshoo-Barton FOB bill and the 5-year exclusivity period in Waxman’s FOB bill are duking it out, and we’re already seeing increased industry flexibility.  Innovator pharma has historically insisted on a 14-year exclusivity period to accompany follow-on biologics legislation, but BIO has already indicated some willingness to support Eshoo-Barton, as has PhRMA

Dani’s the expert, but my layman’s guess is that we get a FOB pathway this time around, and that the exclusivity number lands somewhere in the 8-10 year range.  This is consistent with a Teva-promoted analysis and it’s easy to see that it covers the arithmetic middle ground.

2.  Geopolitical realignment: increasing innovative activity in Asia, which has historically focused more on generics.

In China, a recent deal between Lotus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCBB: LTUS) and Beijing Yipuan Bio-Medical Technology Co., Ltd. (“Yipuan”) to acquire the drug Yipubishan points to China’s interest in promoting innovation.  Yipubishan, which is used to treat the symptoms of gastric ulcers and hemorrhages of the upper digestive tract, was partly funded through the use of grants from the Innovation Fund for Small – Medium Technology Based Firms of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC.  Yipubishan became the first prescription drug of its kind developed in China to be included in the National Torch Project, which recognizes and promotes commercialization of high-tech discoveries and encourages companies to use high technology.  The Torch Project is one of a series of PRC Science and Technology initiatives.

In India, Wockhardt’s pioneering efforts in biotechnology are among many signs of increasing innovative activity, and have attracted interest from Pfizer and Sanofi.  Wockhardt has set up a global-scale biopharmaceuticals manufacturing powerhouse, the Wockhardt Biotech Park, in Aurangabad, India. This state-of-the-art complex comprises six dedicated, manufacturing facilities, and is designed according to US FDA and EMEA standards. It will also house new biotechnology products that are currently in various stages of development. The complex has the capacity to cater to 10-15% of global demand for major biopharmaceuticals.

India and China are in the 3rd quintile of countries in the 2009 IPRI Report, with India ranking 46/115 and China ranking 68/115 but they are steadily increasing their innovative activity. 

Within a short span, I would expect them to rank more like Israel, which has a world-class innovative industry as well as a strong generics industry (Teva), or Taiwan, which recently announced an initiative to boost cleantech and biotech.  Both Israel and Taiwan are ranked 29/115 in the 2009 IPRI Report. 

Waxman Drives Hard Bargain on FOBs Market Exclusivity

Representatives Waxman (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ) and Deal (R-GA) released the Promoting Innovation and Access to Life Saving Medicine Act today, a.k.a. Follow-On Biologics legislation. The legislation provides a five-year initial exclusivity for products with a unique molecular structure. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is not too happy. In the past BIO has called for a 14-year data exclusivity

Perhaps actions South of the Border will move the ball forward at Health Canada on its regulatory pathway for biosimilars? It has been almost exactly a year since Health Canada’s draft guidance on biosimilars was published. Health Canada subsequently published a summary of its Consultation on the Regulatory Framework for Subsequent Entry Biologics following a stakeholder meeting in June.

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Wednesday Brain Dump: March 11, 2009

Regulatory Brain Dump…

Regulating Nanotech:  The FDA is collaborating with the Houston-based Alliance for NanoHealth (ANH) and its eight member institutions to expand knowledge of how nanoparticles behave and affect biologic systems.  Results will be placed in the public domain.

Regulating Natural Health Products: Health Canada launched the first phase of Online Solution, a secure online system for regulating natural health products in Canada.

Not Waiting for Regulation: Like Teva’s decision in February, Momenta Pharmaceuticals doesn’t think it needs to wait for a follow-on biologics pathway.  It’s proceeding with its application (presumably still a BLA) for a generic version of Lovenox, and unlike Teva, Momenta doesn’t think the FDA will require human trials for its product.

Commissioning Regulation:  A number of reports, including the In Vivo Blog and the WSJ Health Blog have been pointing to the nomination of Margaret Hamburg as FDA Commissioner, with Joshua Sharfstein as deputy.

Self-Regulation:

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GTC Biotherapeutics goes for a Regulatory Double Combo Shot

GTC Biotherapeutics, which recently saw ATryn approved, announced a collaboration agreement with AgResearch Limited, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. 

AgResearch will develop genetically modified animals capable of producing the building blocks for “biosimilar” versions of existing products that will begin coming off U.S. patent in 2014.

The double combo shot:  the success of the collaboration depends on

  1. a continuing trend of GE animal approvals, as well as
  2. the successful introduction of a biosimilars pathway in the U.S., (which is called for in Obama’s budget).

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Teva Decides Not to Wait for U.S. Biosimilars Legislation

In Beni’s post earlier this week on Biosimilars, he identified two major challenges to introducing follow-on biologics into the North American market: technical proficiency, and the absence of a regulatory regime.

Based on the approval of Teva’s biosimilar version of Neupogen in the EU last September, Teva has evidently cleared the first hurdle (and their joint venture with Lonza means their technical capabilities will only increase).

Yesterday, Teva announced that they were not waiting for a Biosimilars regime to be enacted before entering the U.S. market, and instead will take on the extra cost of filing a full BLA for their version of the biologic.

Does this mean we don’t need a biosimilars regime to get biosimilars to market?  Teva itself takes a different position.

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Trends in 2009: Facing the Challenges of Introducing Biosimilars or Follow-on Biologics in the North American Market

The so-called biotechnology drugs or biologics (large, complex protein molecules derived from living cells, usually by use of recombinant DNA technology) are among the fastest-growing class of pharmaceuticals. Within the next two years, some market forecasts predict that biopharmaceuticals will amount to more than 50% of newly approved medicines. In addition to a growing market share, a substantial number of major biotechnology-based drugs will come off patent and enable the development of new biologics. The race by pharmaceutical companies to get into biologics, or further support their existing biologics capacities in order to start developing biosimilars or follow-on biologics (FOBs), is illustrated by the rapid pace of recent deals in this sector. The latest of these deals is the acquisition of Insmed by Merck, which was announced last Thursday; however I believe this deal was more about expanding state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities rather than acquiring extremely valuable FOBs.

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