Biogen to spend $700M to build its stake to 49.9% in biosims joint venture with Samsung

After Biogen reported first-quarter results back in April, CFO Jeff Cappello said the company would get further involved in an "attractive value creation" opportunity: its biosimiliars joint venture with Samsung BioLogics. Now, the drugmaker is disclosing just how involved it will get.

Biogen says it'll pay Samsung BioLogics about $700 million to build its stake in the joint venture to 49.9%. The exact value will depend on timing and exchange rates. Biogen already owns about 5.4% of the biosim outfit, Samsung Bioepis. The deal is expected to close in the second half of this year.

On the company's first-quarter conference call, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos explained why Biogen finds the JV so enticing. He said the the joint venture's European biosimilar revenue is tracking at about $500 million per year. And the partners can look forward to a big launch there later this year: a biosim to AbbVie's bestselling Humira. That product is set to launch in Europe in October under an April agreement with AbbVie.

In the first quarter, biosims contributed $128 million in revenue to Biogen, a 93% increase over the same period last year. With new products under development, those sales will only grow.

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Samsung Bioepis' portfolio includes biosims to Amgen's Enbrel, J&J's Remicade, Sanofi's Lantus and more. Each of those biosims have scored approvals in either the U.S. or Europe. The company is also working on biosims to Roche's Herceptin and Avastin, two bestselling cancer meds.

Biogen's move to scoop up more share comes as its stalwart multiple sclerosis franchise operates in an increasingly competitive field. Roche's new Ocrevus, for instance, is among the best-ever launches in the field, executives for that company recently said. Biogen is somewhat insulated from that threat, however, because it receives royalties on Ocrevus sales.