Biosim-focused Biocon picks up Pfizer R&D site in India with plans to employ 250

Pen on a business contract
Biocon has purchased an R&D site in India from Pfizer. (SARINYAPINNGAM / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Biocon already has a wide pipeline of biosim molecules and partnerships with global drugmakers. Now, it’s picked up a 60,000-square-foot R&D site from Pfizer to advance on its ambitions in biosimilars. 

The site at the TICEL Bio Park in Chennai, India, will house 250 scientists and will allow the company to “fast-forward development of our biosimilars from lab to pilot scale,” Biocon Biologics CEO Christiane Hamacher said in a statement

The site will house cell line development capabilities, 400-liter bioreactors, formulation and analytical labs and more, Biocon said in a press release. Rather than building out a new facility, the company expects the acquired site to be ready for work in a short time. The companies didn’t disclose the sale price.  

The new R&D facility will add to Biocon’s 200,000-square-foot R&D site in Bengaluru. In all, Biocon has 28 molecules in development, including 11 under a partnership with Mylan, a few others with Novartis' Sandoz and the remainder independently.   

RELATED: Novartis and Biocon partner on ‘next wave’ of biosimilars 

So far, the drugmaker has reached various markets around the world with six biosimilars, either through partnerships or independent launches. The company also inked a global collaboration with Sandoz early last year, aiming to advance the “next generation” of biosimilars. Through the deal, the companies are sharing R&D and commercialization costs for immunology and oncology biosimilars. 

Sandoz will handle marketing in the U.S., Canada and much of Europe, while Biocon has rights to the rest of the world. 

Amid Biocon’s advances, the company has also suffered some biosim setbacks, particularly in manufacturing. The company’s biosimilar of Sanofi's Lantus suffered numerous delays due to manufacturing problems discovered during FDA inspections. And as those delays piled up, the market for Lantus copycats eroded, causing Merck and its partner Samsung Bioepis to call it quits on their own biosimilar. 

RELATED: Mylan and Biocon win FDA nod for Herceptin copy and move biosim forward in EU 

And Biocon’s copycat of Roche's Herceptin suffered a delay due to problems at a manufacturing plant in Bangalore before eventually winning approvals. The company has launched the med in Europe, but not in the U.S.