Fujifilm presses biosimilars ambition

Consumer electronics giant Fujifilm is advancing its effort to become a biosimilars player. It agreed earlier this month to a 50-50 joint venture with biotech Kyowa Hakko Kirin, reports Reuters. The Japanese companies will target expired-patent substances in the venture.

Kyowa said in a statement it will merge its "proprietary technologies and know-how, accumulated through its biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing," with Fujifilm's "advanced production technology, quality control technology and analysis technology, developed through its photographic film business." The new entity will use "technologies developed through the joint venture" to produce drugs, including therapeutic antibodies.

Last spring, Fujifilm obtained contract biologics manufacturing capabilities by acquiring the Merck Biomanufacturing Network, including manufacturing sites in Research Triangle Park, NC, and Billingham, U.K.

At that time, Charley Beever of consultancy Booz & Co. told us the biosimilars business may be tougher than electronics industry executives think. Operational excellence won't be enough, in part because regulators are unlikely to approve biosimilars for substitution by pharmacists in most markets. "They will have to be prescribed by brand," Beever said. "An understanding of the full value chain is required."

Fujifilm announced previously it would form a generics joint venture with Dr. Reddy's Labs to supply the Japanese market, Reuters notes. The electronics maker is targeting life sciences and medical devices as engines of growth.

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