Spectrum & Viropro to develop rituximab biosimilar

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies Contract Rituximab

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals and Viropro are to develop a biosimilar version of rituximab, a monoclonal antibody cancer treatment sold by Roche and Biogen Idec.

The US patent for rituximab, a treatment worth billions of dollars in global sales, is due to expire in 2015, creating an opportunity for biosimilar producers. Viropro has used its expertise, which is also provided on a contract service basis, on development of a rituximab biosimilar.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals has inked a letter of agreement (LOA) with Viropro for the development and clinical production of biosimilar rituximab. The deal follows a 2007 agreement with Intas Biopharmaceuticals to become Viropro’s second monoclonal antibody contract.

The monoclonal antibody deals are the “perfect complement​” to the contract services business at Viropro, said Rajiv Datar, president and CEO, and fit in with the global business plan the company has implemented in recent months.

Now the flow of revenues from this LOA, in addition to the expected revenues from the first contract with Intas, will ensure a considerable revenue flow to Viropro for the next several months​”, said Datar.

Milestone payments are expected to be received over a period of 36 months, with royalties from ensuing sales to follow. Spectrum will also license the rights to certain technologies used in the development of the rituximab biosimilar.

Acquisitions and financing

Viropro​is in negotiations “for two major acquisitions​” and has secured a partner for its financing effort. In December Viropro retained the services of Gilford Securities as its strategic advisor on acquisition targets, as well as financing, and has now said negotiations for two deals have begun.

The "String of Pearls" model, where all the targets are valuable on an individual basis, but even more so when combined as Viropro, is the basis of the acquisition strategy, said Datar. By following this Viropro hopes to offer integrated biopharm services by mid 2011.

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