Not that anybody is excited about interferons, but if they must be taken at least they might be about to get cheaper...
Ratiopharm: competes with Stada, Sandoz on biogeneric drugs
Mar 8, 2006 - Marketwatch - German generic drug maker Ratiopharm GmbH Wednesday said it is competing with German generics company Stada AG and Novartis AG's generic subsidiary Sandoz in the race for biogeneric drugs to be approved in Europe.
Although the company, which had EUR1.6 billion sales in 2005, didn't reveal exactly the targeted drugs, it gave useful hints.
"Complex molecules are high-priority projects at Ratiopharm," Elmar Schaefer, chief executive of Ratiopharm's research and development subsidiary Biogenerix AG, said Wednesday. Schaefer was speaking at the opening of a EUR40 million-investment biogenerics production plant at Ratiopharm's headquarters.
Schaefer explained later that Epo and Interferon are made up of complex molecules.
"We are head-to-head with Stada and Sandoz," Schaefer said.
He went on to say that the company has two so-called super generics projects in its pipeline.
These are biosimilar versions of patent-free drugs but with an additional innovation like longer-lasting efficacy.
Epo is the top-selling biotech drug in the world made by Amgen and used in cancer treatment. It had 2005 sales of $10.8 billion, according to Ratiopharm.
Schaefer said Epo had EUR1.19 billion sales in cancer treatment in Europe.
He added that out of 2 million possible Epo patients in Europe, only 8% have been treated with Epo, due to the high price, saying that the treated number of patients may rise once cheaper versions of the drugs like biogenerics would be available.
Ratiopharm competitor Stada AG in February said it plans to file for European approval of its biogeneric version of Epo in the first quarter this year.
Stada estimates a European market volume for generic Epo of more than EUR1.1 billion.
Novartis is not revealing how far advanced its project of a biogenerics version of Epo is. Novartis pursues the biogeneric Epo version of German company Hexal, which was acquired by Novartis in 2005.
Interferon-beta, which is used to treat multiple-sclerosis, saw 2005 sales of $3.7 billion, according to Ratiopharm.
German drug maker Schering sells Interferon beta under the name Betaseron and saw 2005 sales of EUR867 million, up 10% on the year.
The drug will be patented in 2007 and 2008 in the United States and the European Union. Rebif is another version of Interferon beta, sold by Swiss company Serono SA.
It saw 2005 sales of EUR1.066 billion, up 16.4% on the year.
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