Pfizer, Amgen eye $1B deal for Russian biosimilars developer Biocad

Russian pharma dealmaking is heating up. On the heels of news that Pharmstandard is shopping its over-the-counter business, the biosimilar developer Biocad is said to be entertaining offers from the likes of Pfizer ($PFE) and Amgen ($AMGN). The Russian company could be worth as much as $1 billion, sources told Bloomberg.

Biocad now sells chemo drugs, a generic multiple sclerosis treatment, and several anti-infectives. But its latest claim to fame lies in developing knockoff versions of biologic cancer treatments. As Bloomberg reports, the company is recruiting patients for studies testing biosimilar versions of Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer triumverate Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin.

Meanwhile, Biocad last week inked a deal with the Turkish drugmaker Nobel İlaç involving a biosimilar version of Amgen's anemia blockbuster Aranesp, also known as darbepoetin alfa. Biocad is wrapping up a Phase I study in Russia. Under the arrangement, Nobel will work on a production platform for the drug in Turkey, and the two companies will work together on research and trials on this and other drugs.

So, Amgen could have an interest in Biocad's Aranesp knockoff, as well as its other biosimilar efforts; like Biocad, the company has said it's planning to develop a biosimilar version of Herceptin. It already has a biosimilars deal with Actavis (formerly Watson Pharmaceuticals), possibly involving Avastin and Rituxan as well.

As for Pfizer, it has worked with Biocad in the past; last year, they agreed to work together on a hemophilia drug, and before that, they collaborated on education projects in St. Petersburg, Bloomberg says.

Bloomberg also notes that OAO Gazprombank bought a controlling stake in Biocad in 2011. Founder and CEO Dmitry Morozov also retains an ownership interest. The company has reportedly engaged William Blair & Co. to run the sale process.

- read the Bloomberg story

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