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Pfizer Targets Generic Markets

Pharmaceuticals: Drug giant makes Indian supply deal and Brazilian investment

by Ann M. Thayer
October 25, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 43

Credit: iStock
Pfizer takes a jab at competitors with its generic insulin deal.
Credit: iStock
Pfizer takes a jab at competitors with its generic insulin deal.

Delivering a one-two punch to competitors, Pfizer is strengthening its generic drug and emerging-markets businesses, while also challenging its big pharma colleagues in the diabetes field.

The drug company is paying $200 million up front for global marketing rights to four insulin products sold or being developed by India's Biocon. All are biosimilar versions, or comparable generic forms, of recombinant insulin and insulin analogs sold by Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly & Co., and Sanofi-Aventis. Biocon could receive at least $150 million more in milestone payments as the products are launched in markets around the world.

By 2015, many big-selling insulin analogs will lose patent protection. "This collaboration supports our stated efforts to become a strong player in follow-on biologics, as well as in the diabetes disease area," said David Simmons, president of Pfizer's established products business, when announcing the deal.

In the short term, the deal will be incremental to Pfizer's strategy in emerging markets, established products, and biosimilars, Leerink Swann stock analyst Seamus Fernandez told clients in a report. "Nonetheless, Pfizer's participation in this market does raise the bar for the major producers of insulin over the long term," he added.

In 2009, antidiabetic products were a $30 billion market that was growing more than 13% per year, according to the market research firm IMS Health. The developing world is one of the biggest untapped markets for diabetes drugs, as well as generics.

Drug sales in the 17 so-called pharmerging countries will increase by 15% or more in 2011, IMS predicts. According to Pfizer, the global generic drug market is expected to reach $920 billion by 2013, with the bulk of the growth coming from emerging markets.

To position itself in Brazil, one of six key emerging markets it has identified, Pfizer is spending $240 million for a 40% stake in Laboratorio Teuto Brasileiro. The partners intend to develop generic drugs for Brazil and international markets. Teuto will receive performance-based milestones, and Pfizer has the option to acquire the remaining 60% of the firm in 2014.



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