Biocon seeks marketing alliances in several emerging markets

Biotech major Biocon is planning to forge partnerships as well as leverage existing alliances to augment the access and penetration of its biosimilar molecules.

"We are investing in augmenting our manufacturing, research and marketing base to pursue strong and sustained growth," Biocon Chairperson and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said in the company's annual report.

"This includes our first overseas manufacturing facility in Malaysia, a new state-of-the-art research centre in Bangalore, and a number of marketing alliances in several emerging markets," she added.

The Bangalore-based company has regional partners in 32 geographies, including Brazil, Mexico, China and Japan.

"Building on our domestic experience, we have begun unlocking value in other emerging markets with recombinant human insulin (rh-Insulin), insulin analogs and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), key products of our biosimilars portfolio," Shaw said.

The term biosimilar refers to products that are marketed after expiration of patents, which are claimed to have similar properties to existing biologic products. Due to the complexity of biologics, a product can only be made that is similar, but not identical.

The company's new insulin facility in Malaysia started last September and will help to take its biosimilar insulin and analogs to the global markets. The company is also looking at optimising its regional partnership approach to carve out a large slice of the global insulin market, the report said.

In the Novels portfolio, the company had received positive outcomes from Phase-III trial in Psoriasis for Itolizumab, the anti-CD6 molecule targeted at auto-immune disorders like plaque psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Itolizumab successfully met all primary and secondary end points in the 52-week, double blind, and placebo controlled trial.

Its partner, Amylin had filed an Investigational New Drug (IND) application in the US for phybrid, which is a novel biological entity targeted at diabetes and obesity. The molecule has entered into phase-I clinical trials in the US market.

Its biosimilar Trastuzumab has commenced multi-centric, Phase-III trials in the country, aimed at accessing the pie in emerging markets.

The other molecules from its Mylan partnership are also due to enter clinics over the course of the next couple of years, the company said.

The current innovator market size for this portfolio is approximately USD 33 billion in 2011. "We expect to carry forward the momentum of our research programs and substantiate our efforts of moving up the value chain over the coming years," the report said.

FY12 saw the beginning of a crucial action phase for Biocon with the looming biologics patent expiries commencing from 2015, Shaw said, adding branded formulations helped energise the company not only in terms of earnings but also in creating brand equity.
The domestic pharmaceuticals space is set for exciting times with the market expected to cross USD 50 billion mark by 2015, Shaw said.

During 2011-12, the company delivered a 16 per cent topline growth with revenues reaching Rs 2,148 crore as against Rs 1,858 crore in FY11.

This growth has been driven by strong performances in research services and branded formulations which grew at 29 and 39 per cent, respectively.

"Our five growth verticals namely small molecules, branded formulations, biosimilars, research services and Novel molecules are built with a firm focus on emerging markets.
Emerging markets are currently growing at 13-18 per cent compared to the almost flat growth in most developed markets," Shaw said.

The domestic healthcare market is being driven by chronic therapies, especially diabetes and dermatology.

As drug development becomes an expensive, high-risk endeavour, we are leveraging our robust R&D engine to deliver affordable innovation, she added.

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