The AP Reporter Linda A. Johnson Offers An Intriguing “Gloss” To My Morning’s Story

Linda A. Johnson — when filing stories on pharma for the AP — is an impeccable fact-checker, so I’ll take her word at face value, here. She reports off-handedly, at the end of her as-filed-story this afternoon (on the Samsung Bioepis/Merck collaboration), that (1) Merck is in the process of developing (in-house) a biosimilar version of rituximab. She mentions (2) that one version of rituximab is branded by Biogen Idec as RituxanTM.

She also reports that (3) Samsung Bioepis is actually a joint venture of Biogen Idec and Samsung Biologics. Now that’s interesting, right?

We know Merck is collaborating to be the market muscle behind undisclosed biosimilars, with Samsung acting as the laboring oar — on development and regulatory clearance — as of this morning.

Did Biogen Idec offer Whitehouse Station a “cut of the action“, to keep Merck from completely eating its lunch, globally, if and when the in-house version of Merck’s rituximab reaches market? We won’t know for a few years yet, in all likelihood — but this is suddenly a very entertaining parlor game. Which biosimilars will most benefit from the momentum Merck has built in HPV, Hep B, Hep C and. . . HIV (think Isentress here).

We will certainly keep a weather eye on this, now. Here is the concluding bit of Linda Johnson’s AP story — but do go read it all:

. . . .Merck already makes a few biologic medicines, including drugs to treat hepatitis B and C, an infertility treatment and its genetically engineered Gardasil vaccine against a sexually transmitted virus, HPV, that causes several types of cancer and genital warts.

The company, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has said it’s developing an experimental biosimilar version of rituximab, an antibody-based biologic drug sold under brand names including Rituxan.

Samsung Bioepis is a joint venture between Korea’s Samsung Biologics and Biogen Idec Inc. of Weston, Mass. Biogen Idec makes biologic medicines including Rituxan. . . .



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