Following Biocon, other pharma companies are also set to tap the Rs 130-crore market for breast cancer drug Herceptin. According to people in the know, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd (DRL) and Ahmedabad-based Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd are planning to launch biosimilar of Herceptin (trastuzumab) and the trials are likely to start soon, in the backdrop of Swiss firm Roche’s decision of not pursuing Indian patent for Herceptin. Biocon, which has completed the phase III trials of trastuzumab, is likely to launch the product this financial year. However, the complex procedure of creating biosimilar (generic version of biological procedure), especially making monoclonal antibodies (a kind of biological drug similar to herceptin) allows only a handful of biotech companies to try their luck for launching the biosimilar version of trastuzumab in India.
DRL, the first company to launch a monoclonal antibody biosimilar in India, had launched Reditux (Rituximab) used in the treatment of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a kind of blood cancer) in 2007. On plans of launching Herceptin biosimilar, a DRL spokesperson said: “Dr Reddy’s does not share specifics of its portfolio. However, molecules like trastuzumab are very much on our radar, given the significant impact biosimilars of such molecules will have on patient access and cost of care in countries across the globe including India.”
ALSO READ: Dr Reddy’s Q1 net up 7% on robust US sales. DRL is one among the first Indian companies which entered into the biosimilar space. It had launched generic Filgrastim back in 2001. Currently, DRL has a portfolio of biosimilars like filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, rituximab and darbepoetin alfa. In June 2012, DRL had entered into a partnership with Merck Serono, a division of Germany-based Merck KGaA, to co-develop a portfolio of biosimilar compounds in oncology, especially monoclonal antibodies.
Intas Biopharmaceuticals, the biotech arm of Intas Pharma, had launched ‘Mabtas,’ a biosimilar version of Rituximab, in India in May 2013. A spokesperon of Intas said: “Trastuzumab is a critical molecule in the oncology pipeline at Intas and we have been actively pursuing its development. It is necessary that cost effective Trastuzumab is available in India so as to increase the accessibility of this vital therapy for the benefit of a vast number of breast cancer patients in India.” According to the 2008-Globocan data, breast cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer (22 per cent) and is the second leading cause of death after cervix cancer (26 per cent ) among women in India.
– Business Standard